CBCP President on ongoing Mamasapano investigation

SEEKING TRUTH AND JUSTICE
PURSUING PEACE

CBCP Statement on the Ongoing Mamasapano Investigation

CBCP 2015 Archbishop Villegas NJ Viehland

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan at the end of the bishops’ plenary assembly Jan. 2015 at Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Congress has commenced its inquiry into that sad episode of our recent history — the slaughter of 44 gallant men of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police.  We note that the two chambers of the Legislature have opted to conduct separate investigations when a joint inquiry would have allowed for a more expeditious investigation and would have obviated the possibility of findings at loggerheads with each other.

Truth and Accountability

The President and his advisers must give a full and satisfactory accounting of their actions in respect to this tragic loss.  The targets of the SAF operations were characterized as “high value targets”.  If the police went after them, it can only be because they were ordered to do so.  Policemen do not order themselves, not even members of the Special Action Force.  Indeed, that is what corroborated statements now clearly establish: The decision was made on the highest levels to go after these “high value targets”.  The only thing that was awaited was “the window of opportunity”, a judgment that is made by people on the ground.

Questions call for unequivocal and truthful answers.  Lives were needlessly lost because in many ways the operation was covert.  Why, for one, were the highest-ranking official of the Philippine National Police and his civilian superior, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, left out of the loop of information, consultation and command?  It seems that a suspended police officer played more than a merely advisory role.  Why should he have been giving orders?  And if he was in fact issuing orders and commands, should it not be clear that his authority to do so, precisely because he was laboring under a legitimate order of suspension, emanated from higher levels?

The concealment of truth or the foisting of deliberate falsehood even to shield one’s superiors from embarrassment or to spare them indictment is always a moral wrong, especially in the context of legal processes and under oath.  When one swears to tell the truth and invokes the help of God, one is morally obligated to speak the truth.  We therefore urge all witnesses and all those in possession of information material to the resolution of facts in issue to speak the truth at all times.

 Heroes Among Us

As we did almost immediately after being informed of the gallant deaths of our SAF men, the CBCP extols their courage, their heroism and their fidelity to the call to duty.  We understand the heartaches of the SAF men and women who rightly have reason to feel that our leaders failed them.  While it is true that every person who dons the uniform either as a police officer or as a soldier puts his life on the line in the performance of his sworn duties, it remains the solemn moral duty of the national leadership to protect them from needless harm and to uphold their interests as well.  The human person is never merely a means, no matter how glorious, noble or desirable the ends may be!

quevedo bday bishops mejia NJ Viehland

[from right] Bishops Leopoldo Tumulak of the Military Ordinariate, Mylo Vergara of Pasig and Father Marlon Mejia, CBCP Secretary General in Cotabato City, Philippines.- NJ Viehland Photos

The Peace Process

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines offers its assistance to the pursuit of lasting peace, a settlement of differences that will allow the people of Mindanao, Muslims and Christians alike including indigenous peoples to live in peace and as equals, citizens of one Republic, nationals of one country.  We hold it to be morally obligatory for the government and for the restive segments of Philippine society to search for the paths of peace.

It is of course true that peace cannot rest on deceit, the suppression of truth and subterfuge.  This is the reason that getting to the truth of the Mamasapano tragedy is of paramount importance.  In fact we should learn from Mamasapano for we paid a heavy price to learn its lessons.  We have painfully been shown the pitfalls and the traps, the gaps and the lacunae of deals we have thus far entered into.

The goal cannot be the cessation of hostilities at any cost, but a principled settlement of the dispute, and peace born out of truth, a commitment to social justice and adherence to the fundamental law of the land!

If anything at all, Mamasapano should instill in all, especially in our legislators, a sense of circumspection in respect to examining the first draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.  Let the document be assiduously studied, fully debated and exhaustively examined.

The Moral Requisites of a Just Settlement

There has to be SINCERITY on both sides — on the side of government forces and agents and on the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  Hostilities must cease while legal processes must be observed.  Officers pursuing fugitives from justice or identified terrorists can never be the legitimate objects of attack.  Similarly where a truce has been agreed on, it is incumbent on all parties to hold their fire.  The government must resolutely pursue its projects for the further development of Muslim Mindanao and for the speedy and lasting attainment of social justice so that our Muslim brothers and sisters may fully share in the resources of the country and in the strides it makes towards prosperity.

The MILF must surrender the culprits: those who cut down the SAF 44 in the prime of their youth and must not interfere with their prosecution and their trial. The video clip that went viral showing the merciless execution of SAF men who were wounded and helpless cannot and must not be shrugged off.

The CBCP stands with the widows and orphans of the fallen to demand Justice and the indictment of the culpable.  It must also explain satisfactorily why international terrorists were within the territory supposedly occupied by them.

Finally, the arms and ammunition captured from the SAF and from other lawful agents of the Republic of the Philippines must be returned.  Justice and peace demand restitution of what one has wrongfully taken.

Solidarity in Prayer

The CBCP remains one with the grieving families of our fallen SAF men, as well as with the families of all who lost loved ones in this armed encounter.  Whether Christian or Muslim, we believe in a God who does not allow those who remain faithful to him to be lost.  We turn now in this moment of grief to the One Father of us all for consolation, strength and hope.

Appeal for True Patriotism

This is not the time for political opportunism.  This is not the time for adventurism or grandstanding.

While resolute action is necessary on the part of all, precipitous action and recourse to extra-constitutional measures will only visit more harm and misery on our people.

 The CBCP cannot lend its support to any movement that may bring greater suffering for our people.  We would do well to join in the debate spiritedly, to be zealous in ferreting out the facts and to be unyielding in demanding accountability.  But it is also our moral duty to be law-abiding citizens, animated at all times by the Gospel that insists that we love even those who we may find difficult to love!

No Peace Without Humility

 The Kingdom of God is as much a gift as it is a project, for while only God can make his kingdom come among us, he calls us all not only to preach it but, by our deeds, to make its presence tangible and real for the world.  Peace is the mark of this kingdom, and so it is that for a Christian there is no other way but to work for peace.  But time and again we have been taught that clever calculation, crafty speech and pompously worded documents never bring lasting peace.  It is when we humble ourselves and pray, and allow the Spirit to lead us that shall find that path of peace.

 The CBCP therefore invokes God’s Spirit even as it pledges that bishops individually and collectively will make themselves and their resources available for the demands of arriving at a lasting solution to the problem of turning swords into ploughshares.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Intramuros, Manila, February 16, 2015

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

Philippines debating the law to give more autonomy to Islamic south

Read story: Draft Law Brings Hope, Faces Challenge of Religious Extremism

Tapatan sa Aristocrat - Bangsamoro Law, (l-r) Melo Acuna, Retired Commodore Rex Robles, Atty. Anne Basman, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III - by NJ Viehland

Tapatan sa Aristocrat – Bangsamoro Law, (l-r) Melo Acuna, Retired Commodore Rex Robles, Atty. Anne Basman, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III – by NJ Viehland

 

Bangsamoro table Basman 2014 09221

Bangsamoro table Rex Roblesm2014 09221

Cardinal Quevedo: Church’s shared mission of portraying God’s love, justice and peace

 

Quevedo Ateneo Award NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato in southern Philippines accepted Sept. 16 the Bukas Palad (open hands) Award from the Jesuits’ Ateneo de Manila University. In his response, he reminded people attending the special school convocation that every member of the Church shares in the “common mission” of showing others that God loves them and plans to let truth, justice and peace prevail.

Following are excerpts from Cardinal Quevedo’s message delivered after he accepted the citation from Ateneo President Father Jose Ramon Villarin,

 

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Sept. 16, 2014, Quezon City - by NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Sept. 16, 2014, Quezon City – by NJ Viehland

… Most profoundly I thank the Ateneo de Manila University, its Board of Trustees, its distinguished president Fr. Villarin, and the Awards Committee for this meaningful award. I am deeply humbled by the award.
Quevedo citation Ateneo NJ Viehland
For forming me to be a missionary to the poor, my vocation which is the basis of this award, I thank my religious congregation, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI). To portray the Lord’s Gospel to the poor, to be specialists in difficult missions… that is the charism handed down to every Oblate by our founder Saint Eugene de Mazenod. 
This is the reason that we Oblates of Mary Immaculate have chosen to work among the people of Maguindanao, Tawi-tawi and Sulu.

Quevedo Ateneo Bukas Palad NJ Viehland

Most of all I thank the Lord, the giver of all good gifts. Everything that I am, everything that people say I have merited because of certain modicum  of skill or talent, everything is simply and absolutely God’s gratuitous gift.
All is grace, said Saint Therese, and that quotation also was given also by our mathematician.
I’m afraid to sit beside her …after…if I pass addition, then I can do the rest….She quoted Rahner – quite understandably, she quoted a Jesuit … 

Quevedo Ruiz Ateneo Awards NJ Viehland

Yes, everything is grace. There are no surprises. There are no coincidences. And if coincidences are really signs of God’s providence, then truly providential it must be to be made an Oblate cardinal and receive honors in this year of the Lord 2014, the 75th year of Oblate missionary presence in the Philippines. We will wait for our own suppression. Then we will celebrate restorationIt is also the 50th anniversary this year of my priestly ordination.
But from a wider perspective, this award reminds us of our common mission to portray God’s reign of salvation. God’s reign of justice and peace, of truth and love, particularly for the poor and the marginalized. Let us all keep our mission focus as priest and bishop. “The reign of God,” “the reign of justice and peace.” That perspective is indeed deeply related to the Christian identity – my identity and yours. To be Christian is nothing more and nothing less than to be disciple in mission.
This is the emphasis given to the Christian identity by our own pope – Pope Francis [another Jesuit. At least we now know that there is an infallible Jesuit.]
For being a missionary disciple is to tell the story of Jesus – the God made poor for our sins. Jesus who walked and lived among the poor, Gentile or Jew, to be ultimately their peace.
The dialogue of Jesus with a non-Jew, the double negativity of being a Samaritan and a woman…
I’m very happy that there is finally a woman awardee for Lux in Domino Award for the Ateneo. It’s a good beginning for the Ateneo. (I am a Jesuit product, so I can make jokes about them…)
The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman has to be a paradigm for building harmony and peace in our country today. We live in the cusp of Philippine history where just and lasting peace in Mindanao is in the final stages of realization – of mutual respect and understanding, persistence, patience, the wisdom of peace negotiators the past thirty years are God’s gifts for the peace process.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo's birthday guests included former Muslim autonomous region officials - by NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo’s birthday guests included former Muslim autonomous region officials – by NJ Viehland

When finally peace will have been realized, whatever contributions I may have given to it, and to the integral development of indigenous peoples and poor farmers in my own Archdiocese of Cotabato, all those are God’s gifts that we may be in solidarity with one another day by day, my dear friends – solidarity among us peoples of different cultures and beliefs as we live. Saint John Paul II has observed, “The fruit of solidarity is peace.”
Once again, thank you very much.

Aquino sends Bangsamoro draft law to congress, kicks off stakeholders’ dialogues

Cotabato,NJ Viehland

Cotabato,NJ Viehland

President Benigno Aquino III has submitted to the Philippine Congress the proposed law providing for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity that is seen as key to establishing and promoting peace and development in the southern Philippines.

Bangsamoro entity created by the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

An update from the Institute on Autonomy and Government (IAG) reported that the Senate and House of Representatives can now proceed to deliberate on the draft law. 

Congressman Rufus Rodriguez will chair the Special Committee that will take up the proposed law in the Lower House. The House of Representatives will create a 75-member ad hoc committee to “review, evaluate and propose legislation” based on the draft BBL.

Its functions include:

* Study, deliberate on and act upon all measures referred to it inclusive of bills, resolutions and petitions, and recommend for approval or adoption by the House those that, in its judgment, advance the interests and promote thr welfare of the people;

* Establish appropriate system and procedures to ensure that constituencies, sectors and groups are given sufficient opportunities to be heard;

* Pursue dialogues and consultations with affected sectors and constituencies;

* Require the submission of studies, research and position papers;

* Engage the services and assistance of experts and professionals from the public or private sector as may be needed;

* Conduct hearings and inquiries in aid of legislation on matters within its jurisdiction;

* Act on measures referred to it and render a report to the plenary for its consideration.

Senate discussions will be led by the Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. Members include Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (Vice chair) and member Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Manuel Lapid, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Grace Poe. Senators Ralph Recto, Alan Peter Cayetano and Juan Ponce Enrile are Ex-Officio members.

IAG in an e-group notice said with the NGO Philippine Center  for Islam and Democracy (PCID) it will continue to report on deliberations on the BBL in Congress.

In Cotabato City, southern Philippines, the institute will collaborate with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines political foundation, Notre Dame University of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation (NDBC) and launch a series of talk shows to foster understanding of the proposed BBL.

The talkshop series will bring together members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), experts, civil society leaders, and key stakeholders to discussions, analysis and debates on the salient features of the BBL certified as urgent by the President for approval by Congress.

IAG senior policy adviser, Oblate Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr., meanwhile will reconvene the Bangsamoro Study Circle group in a series of special sessions to study the draft bill for greater participation of stakeholders in the discussion of the issues that confront the general public.

Concerned people are invited to study the proposed law and submit their views and opinion on the draft law to info@iag.org.ph , which will publish  comments on its website’s opinion section. 

IAG will also publish updates on Facebook and Twitter @IAGorgph using hashtag #BBLWatch 

Cardinal Quevedo, Man of Peace in Muslim Mindanao – ARMM Tribute

BY: OLIVER ROSS V. RIVERA
Wednesday 26th of March 2014

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo appeals for people to collaborate to fight prejudice and work together for the success of peace efforts in Mindanao during his homily for the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and Pope Francis' creation of Quevedo as cardinal last Feb. 22. By NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo appeals for people to collaborate to fight prejudice and work together for the success of peace efforts in Mindanao during his homily for the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and Pope Francis’ creation of Quevedo as cardinal last Feb. 22. By NJ Viehland

COTABATO CITY,  March 26 (PIA)  The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) paid tribute to Orlando Cardinal Quevedo on Tuesday, hailing the first-ever cardinal from Mindanao as a “Man of Peace in Muslim Mindanao” for his contribution to the advancement of peace in the region.

Cardinal Quevedo, 75, is a highly respected leader in Mindanao, largely recognized for promoting trust and understanding among its diverse population.

He is one of the 19 bishops from different countries (elevated in February) to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis.

ARMM’s officials and employees, of different tribes and religion, convened on Tuesday to show gratitude to the Cardinal for his role in advancing peace and speaking out against injustice.

“In behalf of the ARMM, I thank you for the kindness you have given to the people of Muslim Mindanao,” Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, ARMM vice-governor, said.

He said the Cardinal is “not only a man of God but also a champion of Muslim human rights.”

Celebrating with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on his 75th birthday March 11, 2014 was Bainon Karon (extreme right) former chair of the Women’s Committee of the MNLF and later Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. By NJ Viehland

Celebrating with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on his 75th birthday March 11, 2014 was Bainon Karon (extreme right) former chair of the Women’s Committee of the MNLF and later Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. By NJ Viehland

“To you the respect of human rights is the demand of duty,” he said.

In his article “Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao”, Quevedo wrote: “Through the years I have gained some understanding of the Moro viewpoint that has significantly influenced, even altered, my Christian viewpoint. The change came not only from reading books authored by either Christian or Muslim scholars but most importantly from teaching, advising, observing, conversing, and being with Muslim students and professionals for many years, even as I accompanied my fellow Christians in their own journey through ongoing history.”

Quevedo said the answer to the injustices in Muslim Mindanao is to give justice to the Moro identity.

He said religious leaders from all sides have a major role in allowing Mindanao’s population to overcome their prejudices and biases.

Leaders from the Catholic community, the Muslim community and the indigenous community – Bishop Colin Bagaforo, Sammy Maulana and Valentin Juan, respectively – took turns to thank and give homage to the Cardinal.

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao and Auxiliary Bishop Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato concelebrate with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in thanksgiving for the cardinal's 75th birthday on March 11, 2014 and his induction into the College of Cardinals in Rome on Feb. 22. NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao and Auxiliary Bishop Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato concelebrate with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in thanksgiving for the cardinal’s 75th birthday on March 11, 2014 and his induction into the College of Cardinals in Rome on Feb. 22. NJ Viehland Photos

 

Lucman said the Cardinal’s “words as a man of peace will not end here” and will once again be called upon with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) this Thursday.

“Your voice will once again be the resounding voice of peace and unity,” he said.

(ORVRivera-PIA12/Bureau of Public Information-ARMM)
– media release from government’s Philippine News Agency  http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=2411395805914#sthash.SCyIJdyg.dpu

Statement of Miriam Ferrer on Bangsamoro Agreement signing

Professor Miriam Ferrer, Chair, Government of the Philippines panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, briefed media at today's Forum organized by the Catholic Media Network in Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Professor Miriam Ferrer, Chair, Government of the Philippines panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, briefed media at today’s Forum organized by the Catholic Media Network in Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Press Briefing, Malacañang
Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, CHAIR, GPH Panel
25 March 2014

On March 27 we will, we shall, sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

There is no turning back. Only moving decisively forward. The peace train is on track. Its design is complete. Most of its elements are in place.

Although it had a slow start, it eventually picked up speed.

In the last 18 months from the historic signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012, we have produced:
–       The four Annexes – on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealthsharing, Powersharing, and Normalization
–       one Addendum – the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters and the Zones of Joint Cooperation
–       five Terms of Reference for our five mechanisms – the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP), the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB),  the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), and the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC)

and renewed our TORs for the IMT and AHJAG.

And now the CAB, a  short 5-page, 12 point text that will formalize the completion of the negotiations.

The CAB puts together all signed agreements: the  FAB, the four Annexes and Addendum, also the very first, very important document, the Ceasefire Agreement of 1997; the  Agreement on Peace signed in 2001 in Tripoli which laid down the agenda for the talks; the Declaration of Continuity of Negotiations in June 2010 which picked up the pieces from the failed MOA-AD of 2008, etc…

The CAB text to be signed:

(1) Reiterates the principles of the negotiation, namely:
–       recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people, their aspiration for meaningful autonomy through a democratic process
–       the aim of finding a solution to the Bangsamoro Question with honor, justice and dignity
–       the aim to end the fighting between the government and the MILF and promote peace and stability
–       the recognition of the responsibilities of the Parties to protect and enhance the rights of the Bangsamoro people and all other inhabitants, correct historical injustice, and equitably diffuse wealth and political power.

(2) Reiterates the commitment to all signed documents

(3) Thanks all those who played important roles in the process

(4) Provides the principles of implementation: Mutual respect for the right to one’s identity; continuing dialogues and consultations, leading to the establishment of a Bangsamoro government that will protect individual and collective rights, and be truly democratic, accountable and representative of the diversity of its populace; and for the parties to abide by the modalities and mechanisms provide d. Most important, to ensure the integrity of the whole process.

The whole negotiating panels of the GPH and the MILF will sign the document. On the GPH end, the signatories would be: myself; panel members Senen Bacani, Yasmin Busran-Lao, Mehol Sadain; panel consultants Zenonida Brosas and Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon.

 

Undersecretary Yasmin Lao, Presidential Assistant for Muslim Concerns, will be among signatories of the Comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday as member of the Government of the Philippines panel of negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. She briefed the media at today's Forum in Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros, Manila organized by the Catholic Media Network. NJ Viehland Photo

Undersecretary Yasmin Lao, Presidential Assistant for Muslim Concerns, will be among signatories of the Comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday as member of the Government of the Philippines panel of negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. She briefed the media at today’s Forum in Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros, Manila organized by the Catholic Media Network. NJ Viehland Photo

On the MILF end, the signatories would be: Mohager Iqbal, Datu Michael Mastura, Maulana “Bobby” Alonto, Abhoud Syed Lingga, Abdulla Camlian and Datu Antonio Kinoc.

The Malaysian Facilitator, Tengku Dato’ Abdul Ghafar Tengku Mohamed will also sign as witness.

The signing will be done in the presence of Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Hj Abdul Razak.

It will be done in the presence of more than 1,000 people before the Palace grounds.

The sealing of the comprehensive agreement is important not only for the Bangsamoro, the people of Mindanao and all other Filipino citizens who have all to gain as one country pursuing its unfinished task of nation-building.

It is also our global contribution to the pursuit of peace in our immediate neighborhood, the Southeast Asian region, and the rest of the world.  The last momentous agreement of this kind was that sealed in Aceh, Indonesia between the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement in 2005.

Many other countries continue to face similar troubles. Our experience, our mechanisms, our approaches have become a rich source of inspiration to these countries that remain challenged by their respective domestic conflicts.

Moreover, our document would be unique in that it would be the first such agreement to be signed by a woman, not only as one of two chief signatories to a comprehensive agreement, but also because a total of three women – one half of the 6-person negotiating team of the GPH, and about one-fourth of the total number of signatories – would be signing it.  Happy women’s month to everyone!

The point, however, is not simply that you have women in Track 1, but that this agreement is a partnership in many ways: a partnership between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government, between and among peoples of different faiths and ethnicity, and between men and women.

And together, we can make it all happen. Together, we can make peace, not war.

That said, the historic signing is but a short station stop in this difficult but rewarding journey to build peace, attain development and exercise meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro and the other people in the parts of Mindanao that will fall under the autonomous government.

We cannot rest, we shall be moving on, full speed ahead, towards full implementation.

Thank you.