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Philippine Jesuit educators back new Muslim region

Creation of new autonomous region in Mindanao is seen as vital to countering the spread of violent extremism

Bong Sarmiento and Jigger Jerusalem, Manila

Bong Sarmiento and Jigger Jerusalem, Manila

Published: March 21, 2018 03:55 AM GMT
Philippine Jesuit educators back new Muslim region

Moro people in Mindanao show their support for the passage of a law that will create a new autonomous Muslim region during a public consultation on March 15 in Iligan City. (Photo by Divina Suson)

The presidents of the Philippines' five Jesuit-run universities have issued a joint statement expressing support for the creation of a new autonomous Muslim region in the southern part of the country.

The Jesuit educators said the creation of a new Muslim region would counter the spread of violent extremism in the Mindanao region.

"Our Catholic faith and Jesuit tradition call us to tread pathways taken by the Prince of Peace, daring us to embrace multi-cultural openness and inter-religious dialogue," said the priests.

The presidents of Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Zamboanga, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Ateneo de Manila University, and Ateneo de Naga University signed the statement, dated March 17.

They called on legislators to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, drafted by a "transition commission" led by the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The creation of a Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is key component of the peace deal signed by the government and the rebel group in 2014.

"The law's passage would provide a real and meaningful foundation for countering violent extremism and addressing many other conflicts in Mindanao," the statement said

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato in Mindanao has also called for the passage of an "inclusive" law that will "promote peace and end religious prejudices."

"The passage [of the Bangsamoro Basic Law] would mean peace and co-existence in Mindanao," said the prelate.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law seeks to establish a proposed new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao.

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