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Bishop urges vigilance over gov’t-MILF peace deal

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MANILA, Oct. 8, 2012— A Catholic bishop has welcomed the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front but called on the public to remain vigilant over the peace process.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said the agreed roadmap for lasting peace is a “welcome development” to end the decades-long separatist insurgency in the Mindanao.

“It’s a step to peace. We have suffered a lot and any step to peace is a sign of hope for peace,” Jumoad said. “But we have to be vigilant and the same time be guiding the people about it.”

The bishop said the people and all the stakeholders must also be informed and updated about developments in the peace process.

“So there must be total education in terms of the implication of an agreement that they will enter into,” he said.

The government and the MILF, the country’s largest secessionist group, have agreed to create a new political entity called Bangsamoro to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“The ARMM is a failed experiment,” President Benigno Aquino III said in a speech delivered in Malacañang yesterday.

“Many of the people continue to feel alienated by the system, and those who feel that there is no way out will continue to articulate their grievances through the barrel of a gun. We cannot change this without structural reform,” he said.

Aquino described the preliminary accord as a “framework agreement” – a roadmap for establishing a new autonomous region to address the legitimate grievances and claims of the Bangsamoro people.

“This framework agreement paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao,” the President said.

“It brings all former secessionist groups into the fold; no longer does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aspire for a separate state. This means that the hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning work stations, and opening doorways of opportunity for other citizens,” he said.

Aquino also said establishing the Bangsamoro political entity will go through the full process of legislation in Congress and will be subject to ratification through a plebiscite.

“Once approved, there will be elections,” he said.

Jumoad emphasized that whatever peace agreement both parties would enter into must always be according to the Constitution.

“The basis of the agreement should be the Constitution of the Philippines,” he said.

The prelate also appealed on the government and the MILF not to set aside “respect for religion” in making the peace agreement.

“Religion must always be respected and there should be freedom in terms of expression of faith and also respect for the dignity of every individual,” he added.

“It should not favor one group or people but it must be inclusive to everybody,” said Jumoad whose diocese is turning 50 years old next year. [RL/CBCPNews]

 

 


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