Following is the CBCP President’s statement sent to Catholic in Asia in Manila, Sept. 27, 2014
PEACE BE WITH YOU! ASSALAMU ALAIKUM!
CBCP Statement on the Bangsa Moro Proposed Law
When Jesus, the Lord, breathed his Spirit and his peace on the apostles, he did so as the fulfillment and summation of all that he had been sent to be and to do for the world! Peace is therefore God’s gift. We must cooperate with God, for we can and often do stand in the way of peace. But we must pray for it and never, for a moment, think that we can, by our cleverness, calculation and strategic craft win it for ourselves!
Hopes for Peace
The Executive Branch has submitted to the Legislature a bill that, if passed, will become the organic law of the political entity already called “Bangsamoro”. Many in Mindanao — and the government itself — pin their hopes on this latest attempt at what is hoped will be a definitive solution to the beautiful land of Mindanao that has, unfortunately, seen so much violence and has had so much of Filipino blood — Muslim and Christian alike — spilled on its soil! The CBCP stands with the government and with all earnestly seek and strive after peace. It commends the efforts not only of the present peace panel that, together with representatives of Muslim Mindanao, has hammered out the accord that presaged the introduction of the bill, but also those of earlier peace panels under prior administrations. The dream of peace in Mindanao has been a common national aspiration for a very long time now.
Dialogue and Debate with Charity
The CBCP now urges the Legislature to do its part: To study the measure assiduously, to debate it vigorously and to place the interests of the nation and the vision of lasting, principled peace before every petty consideration. Let those who have reservations to the proposal, or even those who oppose it, speak their minds freely, coherently and without reserve, and let those who advocate it argue as strenuously in its defense, for only in the context of intelligent — but charitable — discourse can we hope for a reasonable outcome and resolution. The lessons we have learned from the painful conflicts that now rend apart the troubled nations of the Middle East should leave no doubt that, to be enduring and acceptable, any settlement, any organic act, any piece of constitutive legislation must be as inclusive as possible. We particularly insist on the participation in the exchange and debate of the members of the indigenous cultural communities and the indigenous peoples in Mindanao. It would violate the tenets of social justice to ignore them under the pretext of going by the desires of the majority!
Inclusive and Embracing
The effort the government has taken to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all Filipinos underscores the premium that must be placed on the political and territorial integrity of the entire country. History — guided by The Lord of History — has fashioned our nation as one. Let us keep it one — in that variety of ethnicities, cultures, languages and peoples that makes it one of the most alluring pieces of Divine workmanship in the world.
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. 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. It is our hope that Christians too may receive hospitality in those parts of the one Republic that, by legislation, may be marked out as Bangsamoro.
Let every Filipino turn to the same God, the one Father of us all with the fervent prayer: Make me an instrument of your peace!
September 28, 2014, San Lorenzo Ruiz Feast
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan