MANILA — Pope Francis, currently on a five-day state and pastoral visit to the Philippines, noted the Bangsamoro peace process and commended efforts in peace-making during his first public statement given in Malacañang on Friday, January 16.
“In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities,” the pontiff said.
This is the second time that Pope Francis cited the Bangsamoro peace process in a public statement. Prior to leaving the Vatican City for his trip to Sri Lanka this week, the pontiff addressed the diplomatic corps and noted the peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as among the examples of dialogues used to bridge differences.
“I note with pleasure that last March an agreement was signed to end long years of tension in the Philippines,” Pope Francis said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles described the pope’s statement as a “blessing” for the peace process and expressed her gratitude for the Pope’s “trust that our national efforts to make peace in Mindanao will result in a just and inclusive peace – one that will be durable and lasting.”
Deles also noted that the Pope’s “words of encouragement and blessing, which follows the recent, enlightening statement of the surviving framers of the 1987 Constitution, come at a critical time as Congress enters the final, difficult stages of deliberation of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law.”
Both chambers of Congress are in the process of conducting the last leg of public hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the legal iteration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), prior to deliberations. The CAB, the peace agreement signed in March 27, 2014 by the GPH and MILF successfully ended more than 17 years of negotiations and decades of armed conflict.
In light of expected challenges in the roadmap towards the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the political entity that will be entrenched upon the passage of the BBL and the conduct of a plebiscite in the envisioned core territory.
Deles said that “we receive the papal message as a clarion call to all persons of good will to work even harder, collectively harnessing the power of hope and perseverance, to overcome all obstacles and push national consensus towards a just and peaceful settlement of the armed conflict that has divided our people for too long.”
“We ask for continuing papal prayer, blessing, and hope as we continue to strengthen dialogue and forge partnerships towards a peace where no one will be left behind,” she added.