Archbishop, more groups back pursuit of peace after Maguindanao carnage
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The bloodshed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Sunday did not dampen but continued to strengthen the call for peace in Mindanao.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City was the latest to add his voice to calls to continue the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In a forum on the BBL held in Cagayan de Oro City, Ledesma was asked what he thought of the massacre of Special Action Force commandos. A transcript of his answers to questions posed by participants was furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday.
“All the more I think we should be together behind the peace process,” the prelate said, adding that “the strategy we must take here, despite the outbreak of violence, is to move towards peace.”
Ledesma said polarization should be avoided and everyone should “move for the middle ground.”
Father Paul Glynn of the Interfaith Forum for Peace, Harmony and Solidarity secretariat, said support for the peace process should be stronger “because we want peace.”
“I believe that (amid the violence) the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) is more urgent than ever,” Glynn said.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the committee on constitutional amendments, has already manifested her desire to proceed with the hearings on the BBL despite the tragic killings.
Santiago said suspending the hearings “would be counterproductive.”
“In fact the hearings should continue with even more vigor,” Santiago added. “Nothing will affect the hearings—not this unfortunate incidence of violence, for example.”
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the committee on local government, also issued a statement that his decision to suspend the BBL hearings in Mindanao was due to security concerns.
“I would like to reiterate my earlier statement that precisely the reason why I decided to temporarily suspend all scheduled hearings on the BBL in Mindanao is because of the security concern,” Marcos said. “Secondly, it would not be prudent to continue discussion on this issue until the strong emotion generated by this incident has died down and the truth about this incident has come out.”
Marcos’ committee was set to hold an in-house hearing last January 27 and two more hearings in Jolo and Zamboanga on February 4 and 5. Marcos has called for a probe into the bloody clash before hearings resume.
“I would like to appeal, as a peace-loving citizen, to everybody to refrain from issuing statements that would foment hate and cause violent actions as a result of what happened in Maguindanao,” Marcos said.
In Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu has convened the provincial peace and order council, during which, various officials also called for public sobriety pending results of investigations on the deadly clash.
“Let us remain sober and avoid speculations that would only aggravate emotions over the tragic incident,” Mangudadatu said.
He said Sunday’s incident “was an unfortunate tragedy.”
“But it should not become a setback to the peace process that seeks to address the Mindanao conflict that had claimed more than 200,000 Muslim, Christian and Lumad lives in decades,” Mangudadatu said.
The Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development (BNMPD), a civil organization working for the passage of the BBL, also said that amid the tragedy, sobriety should prevail and people should avoid fueling the rage.
Drieza Leninding, BNMPD communications head, said the Mamasapano encounter must not dampen the gains of the peace process.
“Let the investigation of both the GPH (Government of the Philippines and the MILF be complete before making speculations as we also call on the media to avoid enraging their viewers and instead help search for the truth about this incident,” Leninding said.
“Please do not make the BBL a collateral damage of the untoward incident,” Leninding said.
(Reports from Allan Nawal, Bobby Lagsa, and Charlie Señase, Inquirer Mindanao)
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