New Cardinal optimistic of positive outcome of GPH-MILF peace talks PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 January 2014 14:36

Saying both the peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have already sacrificed a lot, newly-named Cardinal Orlando Quevedo said yesterday he is optimistic of a positive outcome of the ongoing 43rd exploratory peace talks in Kuala Lumpur due to conclude today.

“I’m very optimistic both panels are sincere, hoping and open to each other” (in finding a just and lasting solution to the long-drawn armed conflict in Southern Philippines), Cardinal Quevedo told ABS-CBN television and radio station DZMM in an interview hosted by Julius Babao and Nina Corpuz Saturday morning.

The new cardinal has been known as a strong supporter of the GPH-MILF peace talks ever since.

“They have a long way of taking and receiving, giving and taking with regard to their own ideas about peace. So both have sacrificed a lot but I think the common good of the people in Mindanao and the country is what they have in mind,” he said.

“Our own peace panel has been very open and yes, they consult the principal, President Aquino (on the) parameters…and within those parameters, I think they will succeed in finding the last annex on Sunday,” Cardinal Quevedo said, referring to the Annex on Normalization and Addendum to the Bangsamoro Waters, the focus of the negotiations at the 43rd exploratory peace talks.

He also said that what comes next is the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro.

“The most important thing is the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and I think we need to be consulted on that –- the people — the grassroots people have to be consulted on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, every section, section by section before they are really approved,” the Cardinal stressed.

“I think that is important, but I’m very optimistic,” he added.

Quevedo was named Prince of the Church by Pope Francis early this month. Quevedo is the first ever Filipino cardinal to be named to head a diocese outside Manila and Cebu. Quevedo is the bishop of the Diocese of Cotabato City.

He said he was completely caught by surprise when he was informed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle about his elevation as Prince of the Church.

Earlier, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles issued a statement hailing the appointment of Quevedo to the College of Cardinal as “a wonderful blessing -– a portent of many positive developments to come as we push for peace in the South.“

“It reflects the recognition that the Vatican gives to the peace process in Mindanao, our very own contribution to the global call of Pope Francis to work for peace. Cardinal Quevedo is a beacon of hope, and his new role will surely augur well to the Mindanao peace process.

“A Mindanawon, he deeply understands the diverse causes of the conflict that has tormented his homeland for decades. Throughout the decades, Cardinal Quevedo actively promoted inter-religious dialogue among the tri-people (Christians, Muslims and Lumads), which is one of the cornerstones of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate’s mission in Mindanao, in line with the efforts to achieve just and lasting peace in the island, directly and indirectly,” she said.

“Cardinal Quevedo has accompanied the GPH panel in the highs and lows of the political negotiations. He always provided encouragement and support to us during challenging times. We believe that as a Cardinal, he will do even greater things to help achieve our people’s desired peace.

“We pray and sincerely wish him all the best as we all strive to foster a culture of peace not just in the communities but, more importantly, in the hearts of everyone regardless of creed and culture,” Deles said.

During the radio-TV interview, Cardinal Quevedo, now 74, said he was about to write a letter to the Pope about his impending retirement in March this year, upon reaching the age of 75, the mandatory retirement of a bishop, when he was elevated to the College of Cardinal early this month.

He also said that he used to talk to Pope Francis when the latter was still a cardinal during their meetings in Rome several years ago.

However, he said he would not say if Pope Francis would still remember him. — BC