DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Jan. 26, 2015—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) makes a “special appeal” to all sectors, groups, and political movements of the Bangsamoro to come together in dialogue towards a consensus position on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) , underlining the importance of communication in the peace process.

“Dialogue is the way to peace, not the use of arms. This has been the experience of successive negotiating panels on both the MILF [Moro International Liberation Front] side and the government’s,” notes CBCP chief Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas in a Jan. 22 pastoral statement on the draft of the BBL where he reminds “all people of good will that peace is not the fruit of a mere handshake or an embrace, but the “assurance of respect for fundamental human dignity and human rights.”

CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas (Photo: CBCPNews)


“From hostility to openness, from aggressive one-sidedness to mutual respect and understanding, from contestation to trust and friendship – this is the road of authentic dialogue,” he stresses.

According to Villegas, when the encounter of persons from opposite sides is authentically human, the Spirit of the Lord draws them together, finally as friends.

“And friendship is an expression of love — ‘the common word’ for Muslims Christians, and peoples of other religions,” the prelate shares.

Decomissioning of arms

The CBCP chief expresses hope that a new Mindanao history will see arms of destruction replaced by productive tools for human development, when men trained for war are trained for wise and prudent governance.

“We, therefore, commend the consensus decision of both negotiating sides for the decommissioning of military forces and arms. We also pray that the form of government in the Bangsamoro will unite the different cultures together for the common good,” he says.

“We appeal to emerging political parties that they effectively remove the neglect and isolation of the poor from decision-making and make them active partners for their integral development. We ask legislators to ensure that the provisions of the BBL as well as their implementation will be forces of solidarity and not of division,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)