Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo on Wednesday urged legislators not to allow biases and prejudices derail the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law which he described as “the most significant hope for a just and lasting peace in Southern Philippines.”
Quevedo issued a statement through the Peace Process Media Bureau as both chambers of Congress were set to resume hearings on the draft BBL.
“The search for truth and the pursuit of justice must be done with objectivity and without prejudgment,” the first Roman Catholic Church cardinal from Mindanao, also known as the “Cardinal of Peace” said in an open letter addressed to legislators, in reference to the Mamasapano incident, which led to misinformation and unfair judgment on the BBL.
“These judgments have misinformed the public about the nature of the BBL and raised public opinion against a document that is the most significant hope for far of a just and lasting peace in southern Philippines,” Quevedo noted.
The statement noted that the Mamasapano tragedy left 44 Special Action Force commandos, 17 MILF fighters and three civilians dead, triggering a public outcry that has derailed congressional debate on the BBL.
Quevedo said he has closely followed the peace negotiation through the years including the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and the drafting of the BBL.
According to Quevedo, the BBL articulates three major principles, namely, the preservation of national sovereignty, the safeguarding of national territorial integrity and the realization of Bangsamoro self-determination within a limited territory.
“Contrary to misinformation and misinterpretation, the BBL does not advocate the dismemberment of the Republic. It does not lay claim to all of Mindanao and Palawan. It does not advocate the complete independence of any of the entities of the proposed Bangsamoro government such that their national counterpart has no effective role over them,” he said in his letter.
Quevedo then advocated for a refined BBL which is attuned to the Constitution.
“Let legal and constitutional experts have a consensus on what is clearly illegal or unconstitutional in the BBL. Let their wise words guide the rewording of provisions,” he said.
Quevedo said that a refined BBL is “about doing truth and justice, walking in kindness and love, mercy and compassion.”