ISABELA, Basilan, Oct. 9, 2014—Despite the official backing of the national government, the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan is convinced the real problem with the proposed Bangsamoro Entity is not the funding, but the people who will be chosen to govern it.
“Governance is the main issue with Bangsamoro,” Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad noted in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas.
While he is not against Malacañang rolling out P35-billion to Bangsamoro as initial fund, the prelate pushes for the accountability of its leaders and transparency in fiscal matters, citing the alleged history of graft and corruption in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as reason why this should be the case.
“The national government is very supportive of the Bangsamoro as it has been of ARMM. Unfortunately, the people running ARMM have a history of too much graft and corruption which make Christians apprehensive of becoming part of it,” he said.
For Malaybalay Bishop José Cabantan, all transactions involving the multibillion-peso fund must be made public so that Filipinos, particularly those in Mindanao, will know whether their money is being spent properly.
The prelate added that a massive consultation should be conducted, especially among Mindanao’s various Lumad tribes before approving Bangsamoro.
Cabantan hopes the Aquino administration is not just using the Bangsamoro issue to win popular support in the region.
Meanwhile, the legislature began Wednesday, Oct. 7, its “marathon hearing” on the crucial provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In a Sept. 28 statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) calls on Congress to “study the measure assiduously, to debate it vigorously and to place the interests of the nation and the vision of lasting, principled peace before every petty consideration.”
CBCP head Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan stressed that the emergence of Bangsamoro should not mean the exclusion of any Filipino from any part of the country by reason of religious belief, ethnicity or language.
“Our Muslim brothers and sisters have found their way through various parts of the archipelago, settling in many provinces heretofore almost exclusively peopled by Christians. As far as we know, they have been welcomed, received and respected. It is our hope that Christians too may receive hospitality in those parts of the one Republic that, by legislation, may be marked out as Bangsamoro,” he said. (Raymond A. Sebastián)