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Catholic schools push for the Bangsamoro

MANILA (UCAN): Just eight days before the national congress adjourned, Catholic educational institutions joined in the call for the immediate passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law that will create an autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao, known as the Bangsamoro in Mindanao.

If congress fails to pass the law many observers fear a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting for autonomy for four decades, could break down. 

“The executive branch has done its part to forge lasting peace,” Rene Salvador San Andres, the executive director of the Catholic Educational Association of The Philippines, said. “It is time for legislators to pass the law.”

Gus Miclat, the convener of the All-Out Peace Movement, said the Filipino people are losing significant time as he urged the congress to see the urgency of the passing of the law as a vital component for the peace roadmap to continue.

San Andres told students of Catholic schools during a January 19 peace rally in Manila that the proposed law is not ordinary legislation.

“It is crafted to do social justice,” San Andres explained, adding that the proposed law seeks to rectify past errors and to reverse injustices committed against Muslims in Mindanao.

Sister Arnold Maria Noel, an advocate for the passage of the law, said a negotiated peace deal in Mindanao is the only way to end the long drawn out conflict in the region.

“As Catholics we should promote peace and push congress to do the same,” Sister Noel commented.

“It is ridiculous that we profess Christianity, but we continue to discriminate against Muslims,” she said. “We have been discriminating against them for almost 500 years since the Spaniards came.”

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the government peace negotiator with Islamist groups in Mindanao, warned that the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters might be scuttled should congress fail to pass the proposed law.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement signed in 2014 by the government and the front, states that the decommissioning of rebel forces will be done gradually and in sync with identified milestones in the legislative timetable of the proposed basic law.


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