MANILA, Mar. 4, 2015–For the head of the Church’s liaison body, carrying out peaceful dialogue remains the best way to deal with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), fearing that launching an all-out offensive against rebel groups only spawns more problems than it solves.
In a recent interview, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo told Church-run Radyo Veritas government officials must persuade BIFF members to sit down with them at the negotiating table.
“Negotiation must seriously be considered. Offensives are no good … If the government is able to negotiate with MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front], why not with BIFF?” he said.
The prelate, who chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (PCPA), explained unsuspecting civilians are always the first to suffer in almost all armed confrontations.
BIFF members are believed to be among those allegedly responsible for the deaths of 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s elite Special Action Force (SAF) in what has been dubbed the “Mamasapano Massacre” in Jan. 25.
Meanwhile, in an official statement dated Feb. 16, CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas pledges support for “lasting peace, a settlement of differences that will allow the people of Mindanao regardless of religious affiliations to “live in peace and as equals, citizens of one Republic, nationals of one country.”
“We hold it to be morally obligatory for the government and for the restive segments of Philippine society to search for the paths of peace,” says the prelate, adding that “true peace cannot rest on deceit, the suppression of truth, and subterfuge”, which only underscore the “paramount importance” of getting to the truth of the Mamasapano tragedy.
According to him, “the goal cannot be the cessation of hostilities at any cost, but a principled settlement of the dispute, and peace born out of truth, a commitment to social justice and adherence to the fundamental law of the land.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)