Bishops hail peace deal signing

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

MANILA -- Catholic bishops hailed the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday.

“Like all peace loving Filipinos, we rejoice with our countrymen as we mark a milestone in the peace process with the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF,” said Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas in a statement.

With this, the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate is hoping that the signing of the peace agreement is the first step towards achieving peace in the region.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We pray that this first courageous breakthrough will be followed by more steps leading to true and lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said.

The CBCP head also urged the government to also extend its hand to other groups in the northern part of the country by sitting down and talk with them.

“I appeal to the Philippine government panel to continue the process of widespread consultation and an honest, open and trusting dialogue with other communities in Mindanao especially those who feel marginalized and ignored like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” Villegas said.

He added, “It is so important for peace to be sustainable that it be inclusive and all embracing. The strength of the signing agreement lies in its willingness to reach out to everyone including those who are antagonistic to it. A continuing dialogue will strengthen our peace even more.”

The Catholic prelate said that economic activity in Mindanao be enhanced immediately, adding that there can be no peace without human development.

“Development and the promotion of human progress is another name for peace. The promotion of total human development is long delayed. It cannot wait further. The people of Mindanao have been suffering for decades,” Villegas said.

Fr. Carlos Reyes, executive secretary of CBCP Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, said they are happy with the signing of the peace deal, as he echoed Villegas’ statement, noting that dialogues should be also conducted with other groups in the region. (PNA)

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