Aquino forms peace council
Exactly a year after the government signed a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), President Benigno Aquino III on Friday announced the formation of a council of respected community leaders that would work for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), in a bid to save the peace deal left in tatters by the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident.
In a televised address, Mr. Aquino named Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee, and youth leader Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman as those who would lead a National Peace Summit that would “deliberate on and discuss the BBL.”
Mr. Aquino said these “citizen leaders known for their wisdom and integrity” would spearhead a national discussion of the BBL to help people understand the proposed autonomy law that would establish a new autonomous region for Muslims in Mindanao.
The council leaders will invite other “responsible and respected leaders” to participate in the summit, Mr. Aquino said.
“They will dissect the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness. This way, the BBL can be improved. They will write a report that will be made public, so that everyone may be informed, and so that more of our countrymen may understand the matter. In this manner, we will be able to advance a reasonable decision as regards the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” the President said.
“I do not pursue peace just to add to my legacy. What we are pursuing is a genuine peace that truly addresses the roots of the problems that led to violence. At this point in our history, I say to all of you: The BBL will make this a reality,” he said.
Cardinal Tagle confirmed that he had been “invited” to be part of the BBL council.
He said the new body was not a commission. “No other details yet,” he said.
Tagle said Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, were also invited, but could not attend the initial meeting.
There were no immediate comments from Ayala, Davide and the others named by the President in his announcement.
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