Bishop: Unacceptable BBL version will help IS grow
KORONADAL CITY—A senior Catholic leader warned that extremism and Islamic State (IS) influence would spread quickly in Mindanao if Congress passed a version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that the Bangsamoro people, represented by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), would reject.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, urged the bicameral conference committee currently working on the final version of the BBL to weigh the consequences of passing a measure that veered away from the essence of the BBL as crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
Quevedo had endorsed the BBL version crafted by the BTC, a panel led by the MILF.
“A good BBL will be an antidote to Islamic radicalization,” Quevedo told the Inquirer on Wednesday here.
Quevedo, Mindanao’s first and only cardinal, was in the city for the ordination and installation of new Marbel Bishop Cerilo Casicas.
He said if the version that Congress would pass failed to address historical injustices committed against the Moro people, radicalism would grow among Moro youth.
Mindanao, he said, was now in the “cusp of peace” following the peace agreement between the MILF and the government during the tenure of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“In their hands is history, in their hands is peace,” Quevedo said.
Asked how deep IS influence had penetrated Mindanao, Quevedo said IS supporters could be “busy” recruiting members and “it will be accelerated if BBL failed.”
In May 2017, IS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf members tried to seize Marawi City in a bid to establish a caliphate there.
The military is currently engaged in operations to root out and eliminate members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a group that broke off from the MILF, who had pledged allegiance to IS.
Quevedo had echoed a warning earlier made by the group All Out Peace, which warned on Wednesday against diluting the BBL. —REPORTS FROM BONG SARMIENTO AND FRINSTON LIM
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