Cardinal hopes papal visit pushes Mindanao peace

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MANILA, August 9, 2014–A Filipino cardinal expressed hope that Pope Francis’ visit to the country would help advance the southern Philippines’ peace process.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, in a report over Catholic News Service (CNS), hopes that the pope’s January 15 to 19 will support peace and stability in Mindanao.

The CNS said that Quevedo “thinks the papal visit and continued church engagement in the peace agreement and the Islamic presence in the Philippines could be helpful”.

The cardinal spoke Tuesday at an international gathering of the Knights of Columbus in Orlando, Florida about the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Signed peace agreements do not guarantee a just and lasting peace, when the political and economic causes of war are aggravated by cultural and religious biases and prejudices that have been operative in the minds and hearts of Muslims and Christians for four centuries,” Quevedo said.

“The only way to respond to this injustice is to look at their territory now as a product of political realism: They can no longer own the entire area, therefore the idea is a win-win solution to make sure national sovereignty is preserved, he said, “but also to acknowledge this culture, which is distinctly different (from) the Christian culture of the rest of the country.”

According to him, however, a peace agreement between the two parties may be imminent but such a deal alone is not a guarantee for achieving stability in the region.

He reiterated that poverty and injustice which include human rights violations, corruption and land conflict are the root causes of conflict in Mindanao that must be addressed to attain peace.

“The root cause of the conflict is injustice, and after studying Moro history I began to believe they have lost their own sovereignty, their own identity as a distinct group and because of that the government has neglected them in terms of development,” Quevedo said.

The government and MILF negotiators started a new round of talks last week over the delayed filing of a measure that would create a new Bangsamoro political entity.

Observers feared of impasse in the peace process as the two sides continue to disagree on the provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. (CBCPNews)

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