A total of 15 Catholic Church leaders and members of the clergy in Mindanao, including Cotabato Archbishop Emeritus Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, have expressed support for the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“After many failed attempts, this may be the last concrete chance for a just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” the Mindanao Catholic Church Leaders for Peace said in a statement Thursday ahead of the BOL plebiscite next week.
“The new autonomy legislation addresses the historical injustices against Muslims and represents the mutual acceptance by both sides for the creation of a Muslim autonomous area.”
In other developments:
• President Rodrigo Duterte is going to Cotabato City today, Friday, to lead a kick-off campaign for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that will create a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
A plebiscite will be held on Jan. 21 in all five core-territory provinces of the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or Basilan, Lanao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi in Lanao Sur and Lamitan in Isabela.
• To give the public a chance to exercise their right to suffrage in the coming Bangsamoro plebiscite, Duterte has declared Jan. 21, 2019, a special non-working day in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Isabela City, and Cotabato City.
As ordered by the President, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed Proclamation 646 issuing the declaration of a special non-working day in the mentioned parts of Mindanao.
“It is but fitting and proper to declare 21 January 2019 a special non-working day,” the proclamation read, adding it will give the public “an opportunity to actively and fully participate in the plebiscite.”
While noting that the law will face some potential obstacles, the MCCLP cited the need for “intra-faith and interfaith dialogue towards mutual respect and understanding so as to reduce or eliminate biases and prejudices.”
The group also offered to help in quality education and in creating a more inclusive history of Mindanao.
Aside from Quevedo, the other members of the MCCLP who signed the statement were Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro and Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi.
Those who also expressed their support to the BOL were retired Archbishop Fernando Capalla and Auxiliary Bishop George Rimando Davao, Bishops Jose Cabantan of Malaybalay, Guillermo Afable of Digos and Cerilo Casicas of Marbel, Bishops Abel Apigo of Mati, Emmanuel Cabajar of Pagadian, Julius Tonel of Ipil, Severo Caermare of Dipolog, Antonieto Cabajog of Surigao and Raul Dael of Tandag. With Nash B. Maulana and Nat Mariano