CAGAYAN DE ORO City, June 14, 2011—The Jesuit archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro (ACDO) has urged all dioceses and Catholic universities in Mindanao to help in pushing forward the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “for the greater good of Mindanao.”

Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, chairperson of the Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue (ECID) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said it is the responsibility of all Catholic faithful to help push the peace negotiations toward its expected result—genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao.

“We in the Inter-religious Dialogue also would like to involve the many different peace-building centers and Catholic universities and also the different dioceses here in Mindanao to push forward the peace process,” he said.

Instead of just watching the negotiations from the sideline, Catholic schools and peace-building centers, like the peace and development non-government organization Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI), should initiate moves and discussions on how best they can help in the achievement of genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao through a political settlement with the MILF.

“Central to the discussion, I believe, is the Comprehensive Compact which the MILF had presented the government peace panel,” he said in a chat.

The Comprehensive Compact (ComCom), which was presented to the government panel on February 9, 2011, contains the MILF proposal for a negotiated political settlement to the so-called Mindanao Conflict (Moro Question).

Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Cotabato City-based Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, said that the MILF ComCom “is the formula of peace through the exhaustion of all democratic remedies to solve a home-grown sovereignty-based conflict, which, following the same approach, other similar global sovereignty-based conflicts have been successfully resolved, such as in South Sudan and Northern Ireland.”

During the Fellowship Dinner tendered by the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Misamis Oriental, headed by Gov. Oscar Moreno and Vice Governor Norris Babiera, for the MILF Peace Panel at the Rey Magno Teves Equity, Development and Peace (RMT-EDP) Hall of the International Center for Peace (IC Peace) in Mindanaw of BMFI, Ledesma expressed hope that the MILF and the Aquino administration will finally resolve all issues attendant to the Moro Question and sign a final peace agreement.

Ledesma, also a member of the Tripartite Commission of the Bishops-Ulama Forum (BUF) said that the CBCP as well as the BUF have been discussing about the peace negotiations and the challenges of building peace in Mindanao.

“Over the past 14 years now in the BUF, we have also been dialoguing with our Muslim counterparts about the peace process and the challenge of peace building here in Mindanao,” he said.

MILF peace panel chairperson Mohagher Iqbal, for his part, said that while the issues surrounding the Moro Question are hard, it is of utmost importance that ordinary people talk about it to know the truth even if it hurts.

“Sometimes the hard issues are hurting. But the Bible says ‘the truth hurts but sets you free’,” Iqbal said, quoting John 8:32.

Iqbal also thanked Catholic Church’s leaders by Archbishop Orlando Quevedo and Archbishop Ledesma for helping in the achievement of genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao. (Bong D. Fabe)