Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope’s UN call for end to armed conflicts echoes message of support for Mindanao peace deal during PH trip

Pope’s UN call for end to armed conflicts echoes message of support for Mindanao peace deal during PH trip

UNITED NATIONS – Echoing a message of peace when he visited the Philippines early this year, Pope Francis I has called on the United Nations (UN) to take concrete actions toward instituting and nurturing social justice, and to end all armed conflicts through prevention and mediation.
“[R]eal human beings take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be. In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements,” said the Pope, who is leader of the Catholic Church and incumbent sovereign of the Vatican City.
“War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment. If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples,” the Pope said.
His words before the UN General Assembly, which is marking its 70th year, reflected his message of hope that lasting peace could finally be realized in the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao due to the signing of a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). During a five-day state and pastoral visit in January 2015, Pope Francis expressed strong support for the Bangsamoro peace process and commended the Aquino administration’s efforts in peace-building across the country.
While in Malacanang during his Philippine trip, Pope Francis declared that “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.”
“I note with pleasure ‎that last March (27, 2014) an agreement was signed to end long years of tension in the Philippines,” the Pope enthused in his statement in Malacanang Palace during his visit to the Philippines.
The Holy Pontiff was referring to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), a landmark peace settlement between the Philippine government and the MILF that seeks an end to the three decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao through socio-economic and political settlement.
The Philippine government is pushing the peace agreement as a response to the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for genuine autonomy and self-determination as guided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The agreement has served as the basis for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that seeks to establish a new parliamentary political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In his landmark address before the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis stressed that that “political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice.” He added that government leaders should never forget that “above and beyond our plans and programs, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.”
“To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed.”
“[Human dignity] must be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, for every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which human social life develops – friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations,” Pope Francis emphasized.
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentinian Pope is the fifth leader of the Catholic Church to visit the United Nations, and the fourth to address the international body’s general assembly.
The Philippine government insists that the proposed Bangsamoro government provides the proposed autonomous region with more space to exercise socio-economic freedom compared to the current ARMM. It also aims for better political participation regardless of gender, culture, and religion through the provision of sectoral seats and reserved seats for certain groupings such as the indigenous peoples, the minority Christian communities in the region, as well as the youth.
The proposed Bangsamoro law is currently pending before the respective plenary of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Leadership of both Houses are targeting 16 December as the new deadline for the bill’s passage. ###

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