Bishops laud SC decision stopping Palace-Moro signing of pact


MANILA, August 6, 2008— Catholic bishops have lauded the Supreme Court’s decision in stopping the government from signing a land deal with Muslim separatist rebels in Mindanao.

The general view is that the move made by the High Tribunal in issuing a temporary restraining order was the “proper thing to do.”

Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said the SC is right in blocking the signing of the deal, supposedly aimed at ending nearly four decades of rebellion there.

“The Supreme Court is right because (after all), not everybody knows the content memorandum of agreement), he said.

The TRO issued yesterday was in response to a joint petition filed by Mindanao officials who had nixed the deal on ancestral domain, saying it was unconstitutional.

Under the agreement, large swathes of Mindanao will become part of a Muslim state to be controlled and run by Muslims.

The signing of the peace pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was supposed to be held August 5 in Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia.

The lack of transparency in making the deal also caused massive street protests in Mindanao and fears that non-Muslims areas could be covered by the ancestral domain.

“I admire the SC for being really independent… and the agreement must be made public too,” the bishop said.

Gutierrez, whose pastoral jurisdiction is included in the proposed Islamic homeland, said the Philippines is a “participatory democracy” and the pact needs participation of all stakeholders.

“They should be also informed because it will affect them. In other words, transparency and public participation is really needed,” he said.

For his part, Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said the SC decision will provide all stakeholders—not only the government and the MILF—to clear all issues hounding the controversy.

“That’s (TRO) good because there will be opportunity for us to see and scrutinize the content of the agreement which is, of course, of national interest and concern,” he said.

Iñiguez agreed with some public clamor that there are a lot of questions hanging that needs to be cleared up first before the deal is officially signed.

Iñiguez said he is hoping that, in the end, the outcome of the negotiations will be for the common good and not just for some individuals or groups. (Roy Lagarde)(CBCPNews)

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