Principle in BBL is Constitutional, says Cardinal Quevedo

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COTABATO CITY, March 10, 2015—Amid growing resistance to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) due to the Mamasapano tragedy, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI urged Filipinos, especially Christians, against succumbing to their anti-Moro biases in order to appreciate the overall Constitutional principle that governs the BBL.

Mohagher Iqbal (left) and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief negotiators of the MILF and GPH, respectively, shake hands while holding a copy of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) during its formal signing on March 28 in Malacañan. The BBL is said to be the enabling law for the full implementation of the CAB. (Photo: OPAPP)

Contradicting sentiments questioning the legality of the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity, Cardinal Quevedo said the proposed BBL is Constitutional and is even inspired by Catholic moral principles and Christian values.

Bangsamoro self-determination?

In a letter addressed to all Christians, Quevedo argued that under the proposed BBL, Bangsamoro self-determination will be exercised within a limited territory under the sovereignty of the Philippines. Hence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity [still] will be preserved, contrary to the qualms of BBL critics.

“The over-all principle that governs the BBL is the Catholic moral and social principle of subsidiarity, a principle already enshrined in our own Constitution,” he stressed out. “The principle requires the intervention of the national government and its various entities when the common good of all requires it. Therefore, no entity of the Bangsamoro government, such as a Bangsamoro auditing department or police force, is absolutely independent of their national counterparts.”

The Philippine Congress initially targeted to pass the draft law of the proposed BBL this month but a recent meeting of the Upper and Lower House leaders postponed the deadline until June. Congress is set to adjourn on March 21 for the Holy Week but the second regular session of the 16th Congress will last until June 12.

Public anger

Despite being championed by no less than President Benigno Aquino III, many believe passing the proposed BBL in Congress will require an uphill effort after the Jan. 25 clash between police forces and Moro militants in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. At least 44 Special Action Force commandos perished during the fire fight along with 18 Moro rebels and five civilians.

The public’s anger over the Mamasapano tragedy has virtually suspended the Congress’ work in deliberating over the BBL, with some saying that justice must be served first to the victims of the firefight before BBL is passed into law. However, Quevedo countered this, calling on lawmakers and Christians against letting emotions, biases and prejudices to prevail over objective reason so that the Mamasapano incident will not repeat itself.

“In the face of outrage and calls for all-out war for the manner by which our law enforcers lost their lives, I call for peace. I call for rationality rather than emotionalism. I call for justice that is not selective. I call for openness and fairness rather than bias and prejudice,” he said.

“The BBL was negotiated painstakingly with stops and detours for at least five years. It is not an agreement that was hurriedly done. It fulfills the Bangsamoro aspiration for self-determination. It preserves our fundamental principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Quevedo added. (CBCPNews)

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