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Bangsamoro Basic Law supported by Jesuit universities

MANILA (UCAN) : The presidents of the five Jesuit universities in The Philippines are calling for the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will recognise the identity and aspirations of the Moro people in the southern Philippines to be passed in congress.

In a statement released on October 5, the five Jesuit presidents said the proposed law, which will pave the way for the creation of an autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao, should be integrated into the country’s socio-political institutions.

The Jesuits said the law emerges from 17 years of peace negotiations and seeks “to rectify past errors, to reverse injustices committed in prejudice and hatred against Muslims in Mindanao.”

The statement, which is signed by Father Joel Tabora, Father Jose Ramon Villarin, Father Primitivo Viray Jr., Father Karel San Juan and Father Roberto Yap, says, “It charts a better future for the Bangsamoro peoples and cultures and thus for the people of The Philippines.”

The presidents of the Ateneo university system—Ateneo de Davao, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Naga, Ateneo de Zamboanga and Xavier—warned lawmakers against squandering “their fragile moment for building peace through absence from crucial legislative sessions, indifference or fear.”

The statement referred to the lack of quorum that has plagued the House of Representatives debate on the proposed law aiming to establish a parliamentary Bangsamoro government to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The congress is set to pass the law by December 16.

The Jesuits say they believe in the negotiated process that achieved the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The Philippine government signed the agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on 27 March 2014 to end almost four decades of war in the southern region of Mindanao.

The agreement served as a basis for the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The Jesuits say the law should have provisions that surpass, not diminish, the provisions of an existing law that gives autonomy to Muslims in Mindanao.

They maintain that it is import- ant to accept a political entity where the Muslim autonomous region enjoys powers greater than other local government units, but fully subject to national governance.

In separate statements, the Institute for Autonomy and Governance and the Catholic Educational Association of The Philippines, gave their support to the call.

Both organisations highlighted the need for the immediately passing of the law that they say is based on social justice.