Non-Muslims in Bangsamoro assured of equal protection-A A +A
Monday, January 14, 2013
THE government assured Monday equal protection for non-Muslim residents in areas to be covered by the proposed Bangsamoro entity.
“There will be equal protection for all in the new political entity that will be called the Bangsamoro,” government negotiating panel chief Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.
Ferrer acknowledged concerns expressed by some participants in the recently concluded forum in Mindanao that while there is wide public support for the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), there are fears that insecurity, land issues and political marginalization will worsen.
“These fears were there before,” she said. “They did not result from the FAB. They are part of the unacceptable status quo that we now wish to transform through the peace process.”
Ferrer, citing what Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Auxiliary Bishop of Cotabato has mentioned, said that there has been no fighting with government forces since the FAB was signed in October last year.
Bagaforo cited an "increase in business enterprises... people (are) feeling more secure and confident to go out, interact and invest." The bishop emphasized that it is a sign of "high expectations on the FAB that finally peace, stability and development is in Cotabato and Central Mindanao."
However, the prelate feared that the non-Bangsamoro inside the territory will not have meaningful political participation.
Ferrer stressed that respect for basic rights of individuals and groups were reiterated in the FAB.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law can also provide for reserved seats for sectors like the lumad, the settlers and women to ensure their role in governance, she said.
"Transforming relationships between the parties, between the Central and the Bangsamoro governments, among peoples and groups – from enemies to partners requires the concerted effort of all sectors," she added. "And we need the Church's support to achieve this goal."
The panel chair also said that there are a lot of avenues open for engagement with the Catholic Church. (SDR/Sunnex)