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Bishops back the Bangsamoro

MANILA (AsiaNews) : At the end of its three-day Plenary Assembly the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines issued a press release on July 13 presenting its views on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would establish a special autonomous Muslim administered region in Mindanao.

The bishops reiterated that any law should be based on social justice and moral values. The crux of the matter is reaching a deal on the bill between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are now vetting the much criticised draft bill, which would allow for an autonomous 50-member legislature, a prime minister and the partial implementation of sharia law.

“We want a Bangsamoro Basic Law that effectively addresses the injustices suffered by the Bangsamoro as well as the injustices suffered by indigenous peoples and various religious minorities within the proposed Bangsamoro area,” the bishops say.

“We want a Bangsamoro Basic Law that concretely achieves the self-determination of the Bangsamoro in an identified area that remains part and parcel” of The Philippines, maintaining its “territorial integrity under the national sovereignty of the Philippine Republic,” they add.

Noting diverging opinions expressed by legal and constitutional experts, the bishops say it was hoping that ad hoc legislative committees would seriously and reasonably consider all views to avoid jeopardising the requirements of social justice for the Bangsamoro.

The bishops also called for a Bangsamoro Basic Law that effectively protects universal human rights, particularly those of the indigenous peoples and the rights of Christian minorities that fear harassment and further marginalisation.

For the bishops, the ultimate purpose of the law must be lasting peace based on mutual trust, openness and respect.

“Christianity and Islam are religions of peace, the bishops say. “Most Muslims, Christians and indigenous communities want peace.”

Hence, the moral imperative for lasting peace is for Christians, Muslims, Lumads and members of other faiths to begin trusting one another.

The bishops have entrusted efforts for a just and lasting peace to Our Lady, who is eminently honoured in the Qur‘an and the bible as Jesus’ mother.

 

Christians call her Our Peace.