Include smaller groups in peace pact: CBCP

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace accord between the government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is to be signed in Manila today.

Philippines
Mar 27 2014, 12:40 PM
Include smaller groups in peace pact: CBCP

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Philippines (CBCP) has appealed to the government for including smaller insurgent groups in the peace treaty it intends to sign with bigger Muslim movements to end the conflict in Mindanao province.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace accord between the government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is to be signed in Manila today.

While expressing happiness at the agreement, a CBCP statement said, “Like all peace loving Filipinos, we rejoice with our countrymen as we mark a milestone in the peace process with the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the MILF. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We pray that this first courageous breakthrough will be followed by more steps leading to true and lasting peace in Mindanao.”

Mindanao had seen intermittent fighting between government troops and Islamic separatist groups, since 1960s following the call for independence of the Muslim majority area. The peace accord has resulted after the intervention of third parties like Malaysia and many interfaith movements.

The CBCP statement appealed to the Philippine government panel to “continue the process of wide spread consultation and an honest, open and trusting dialogue with other communities in Mindanao especially those who feel marginalized and ignored like MNLF.”

Feeling marginalised after the government had signed the initial peace treaties with MILF, MNLF rebels had last September sieged the city of Zamboanga for three days holding as hostages about 200 civilians, including a priest.

“It is so important for peace to be sustainable that it be inclusive and all embracing. The strength of the signing agreement lies in its willingness to reach out to everyone including those who are antagonistic to it. A continuing dialogue will strengthen our peace even more,” the statement said.

The statement signed by CBCP President Archbishop Socrates B Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan also pointed to the need to enhance economic activity in Mindanao immediately. “There can be no peace without human development. Development and the promotion of human progress is another name for peace. The promotion of total human development is long delayed. It cannot wait further for the people of Mindanao who have been suffering for decades.”

Peace activists like Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato identified injustice to the Moro people's identity, political sovereignty and integral development as the root cause of the Moro rebellion in the southern Philippines.

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