PUERTO PRINCESA City, Palawan, Sept. 29, 2014—Palawan has no need for the Bangsamoro government.
This is what a Catholic prelate believes amid calls by certain sectors to place the Philippines’ westernmost province directly under the government set to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Bishop Pedro Arigo, who oversees the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa, told Radyo Veritas in a recent interview that including Palawan in the Bangsamoro entity will mean generating problems for the people of the province many refer to as the country’s “Last Frontier”.
“Of course, we in the Church accept plurality. But I do not see the need for another government within Palawan,” said he.
He pointed out that a Bangsamoro-governed Palawan will only foster divisions among its residents.
“No. we don’t want it here. We’d rather maintain the status quo. In the first place, Palawan does not have an issue with peace and order as does Mindanao,” said Arigo.
The prelate stressed that the situation in Mindanao does not exist in Palawan given that the latter’s Christian and Muslim populations live together in harmony.
“We refuse inclusion in the Bangsamoro if only because that entity had been created precisely to solve the problems in Mindanao. Therefore, there’s no need for Palawan to join it,” explained he.
Even if the issue can be settled by a referendum, the bishop expresses confidence that an overwhelming majority of Palawan locals will vote against the Bangsamoro government.
Meanwhile, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) appealed to Muslim Filipinos to respect their Christian countrymen in spite of the Bangsamoro entity.
In a circular issued Sunday, September 28, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas said 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”.
He added, “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.
Villegas hopes that Christians “may also receive hospitality in those parts of the one Republic that, by legislation, may be marked out as Bangsamoro”. (Raymond A. Sebastián)