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Mindanao bishops urge PH gov’t to settle Sabah crisis

/ 06:56 PM March 09, 2013

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Catholic bishops in Mindanao on Saturday issued a manifesto addressed to President Benigno Aquino and other government leaders, asking them “to settle the Sabah crisis and save the people of Mindanao.”

The prelates urged the government to support the appeal of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for an immediate end to the violence in Sabah; to press upon the two contending forces to heed the UN call; to resume the diplomatic work of resolving the Sabah proprietary and sovereignty questions, a task historically entrusted to the government by the Sultanate of Sulu; and to ensure the withdrawal with honor of armed forces from the area.

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“You may not agree with the methods used. You may not agree with the ultimate aim. You may say that the entire Sabah event was both foolhardy and also wrong. You might even suspect that there are unseen minds behind the event,” the bishops said. “The fact is Filipino lives have been lost.”

“Even now Filipino lives are at stake. They were lost because they believed they have a right to reclaim a naturally rich territory for which they are being paid a measly sum every year. We cannot simply let them sacrifice more lives for that cause,” the bishops added.

They also criticized the government for asking Kiram’s men to leave Sabah so the violence would end.

“Government leaders can do more than just tell them to get out,” the bishops said.

In the end, the bishops said they were praying that Manila and Kuala Lumpur would finally “demonstrate wisdom and statesmanship in preventing further bloodshed and resolving the basic issues that resulted in tragedy.”

The manifesto was signed by Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable, Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Surigao Bishop Antonieto Cabajog, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan, Iligan Bishop Elenito Galido, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, Isabela Bishop Martin Jumoad, Jolo Bishop Angelito Lampon, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo.

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TAGS: Church, Malaysia, Mindanao, Philippines, Sabah claim, Sabah Crisis
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