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  • Binay, Church, multisectoral groups back passage of Bangsamoro law Polarized by the massacre of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, government officials and leaders of the Catholic Church, Muslim groups, and indigenous organizations yesterday found a common ground by expressing full support for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and calling on Filipinos to give peace in Mindanao a chance.

    Taking the lessons of the bloodless 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution to heart, President Aquino vowed to pursue peace in Mindanao and prevent the “enemies of peace” to succeed despite the grief over the Mamasapano tragedy.

    At the low-key celebration of the 29th anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution, the President admitted that the Mamasapano incident was “truly painful” but should not be a reason to abandon the peace process, particularly the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and resort to war with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

    “In honor of the Filipinos who fought in EDSA and other countrymen who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for others and country, let us continue the fight toward peace and progress we have long aspired for,” the President said after the mass held at EDSA Shrine to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

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    President Benigno S. Aquino III views the 7-minute unity walk of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the wreath-laying ceremony at the EDSA People Power Monument during the commemorative activities of the 29th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution in White Plains Avenue corner Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) on Wednesday (February 25, 2015). This year’s theme is “Ituloy ang Pagbabago.” The 1986 peaceful and bloodless uprising ousted the dictatorship and catapulted the late Corazon C. Aquino to the Presidency. (Photo by Benhur Arcayan / Malacañang Photo Bureau)

    ‘NOT PEACE AT ALL COST’
    Vice President Jejomar C. Binay backed the President, saying he is for peace in Mindanao. However, he said it should not be peace at all cost.

    “Let us also continue to work for peace in Mindanao. But not peace at all cost. It should be a lasting and sustainable peace that is not bound by deadlines and timetables,” Binay, who attended the EDSA Shrine rites, said in a statement. “It should be peace within the framework of our Constitution,” he added.

    Aquino, clad in white polo barong and yellow ribbon pin, also asked the public to remain calm amid the outrage over the Mamasapano incident, saying the pursuit of peace would ensure the sacrifices of the brave policemen were not in  vain.

    The President then lashed back at the groups opposed to the Mindanao peace process for their selfish interests. He lamented that that they merely hurl criticisms instead of presenting alternative solution to the conflict. He said these people do not want peace because they will benefit from chaos and violence.

    This time, Binay disagreed with Aquino. “Perhaps, some are opposing it, but not taking advantage of it,” the Vice President said. Binay stressed that he is all for “lasting peace” in Mindanao but the peace agreement should be in accordance with the Constitution.

    “Let us just help each other in finding ways  to achieve lasting peace. But then, the agreement should be in accordance with our laws and the Constitution,” he said.

    CHURCH SUPPORT
    In a separate statement, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo also expressed full support for the passage of the BBL, calling on Filipinos “to hear Mindanao” and “to give peace in Mindanao a chance.”

    “Today, precisely because of what happened in Mamasapano, that path should not be abandoned. Hear Mindanao: The peace process should not be imperiled. Let the revolution stop. Let Mindanaoans turn factories of war into factories of prosperity. Let those in the north and in the south who are charged with leadership walk humbly, calmly, and wisely before the God of Peace together,” said Quevedo in a statement signed by members of the clergy, the academe, the Moro community, and other peace advocates.

    Citing the Golden Rule, “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do to you,” said Quevedo. He also appealed “not to requite evil with evil. Requite evil with good, confusion and rage with wisdom, death with life. Pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law that secures justice and peace.”

    “In the face of a video showing violence, the anger in our hearts, we should remind ourselves: trust, concern, love, and peace are still more powerful,” Aquino added, exactly a month after the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were on an anti-terror mission in Mamasapano.

    LASTING PEACE
    Binay stressed that he is all for “lasting peace” in Mindanao but the peace agreement should be in accordance with the Constitution.

    “Let us help each other in finding ways to achieve lasting peace. But then, the agreement should be in accordance with our laws and the Constitution,” he said.

    The proposed BBL is the legal translation of the ComprehensiveAgreementon the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will entrench the Bangsamoro region.The CAB was signed by the government and the MILF on March 27, 2014.

    The Aquino administration is targeting the early passage of the BBL, hoping that an election will be held in Bangsamoro in 2016. But the country’s second highest official in previous interviews had appealed for the administration not to rush the passage of the BBL.

    GET EVERYBODY INVOLVED
    Binay said that the incident in Mamasapano, which claimed the lives of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF),”only highlights the need to involve all sectors in the formation of the BBL.”

    Binay had also said that the proposed plebiscite for the BBL should not cover the Bangsamoro alone, but the nation as a whole as it involves the interest of the  whole country.

    Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the BBL remains the best shot and historic chance to attain peace in Mindanao.

    “I honestly believe that the BBL remains our best shot and historic chance for peace in Mindanao. I publicly supported MOA-AD before and studied the Tripoli Agreement and 1996 agreement with the MNLF and this is a superior document. It is imperfect but you cannot correct all the wrongs in one agreement because it is a process, a work in progress,” Salceda said in a statement during the 29th anniversary of EDSA Revolution. (G. Kabiling, with a report from Niño N. Luces)

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