Cardinal Quevedo on SAF deaths: Hold back revenge

MANILA, Philippines – The first cardinal from Mindanao, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, urged Filipinos “to hold back the natural response of revenge” after a clash in Maguindanao killed 44 members of an elite police force.

Quevedo also told Rappler that the bloodbath in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, should not end the peace process in Mindanao, which has suffered more than 4 decades of a Muslim secessionist movement.

“The demand of wisdom is for us to hold back the natural response of revenge and desire to break off the peace process,” Quevedo said in a text message from Rome on Wednesday, January 28. 

Echoing the stand of the Philippines' Catholic bishops, the cardinal made the appeal after the clash between the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and Muslim rebels on Sunday, January 25, cast doubts on the peace process. (READ: CBCP: Maguindanao clash shouldn't end peace talks

Mamasapano is home to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is engaged in a peace process with the Philippine government, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a splinter group of the MILF.

On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III said he is waiting for the official results of the investigation into Sunday's deadly incident. (READ: Aquino: I talked to SAF chief before Maguindanao ops)

The MILF is also conducting its own investigation.

“The demand of justice is for impartial investigation into how such police operation could result into unimaginable tragedy,” Quevedo said.

Quevedo: Insurgency due to 'injustice'

In his text message to Rappler, Quevedo also said he grieves “most deeply with the families of the valiant SAF.” He prayed that the God “of mercy and compassion” would “bring justice and peace to our broken Mindanao that profoundly hopes and prays for lasting peace.”

Made a cardinal by Pope Francis in February 2013, Quevedo is one of the leading voices in the Mindanao peace process. (READ: Cardinal Quevedo a 'prophet' in Mindanao)

After all, he grew up in Mindanao and served as a priest and bishop there for more than 3 decades. The MILF, in fact, recently invited the Pope to Cotabato through a letter endorsed by Quevedo.

The cardinal also wrote a widely quoted paper, “Injustice: The Root of Conflict in Mindanao,” that outlines his views on the Bangsamoro issue.

He explained that “the root cause of insurgency in the South is injustice.” He enumerated 3 basic injustices:

“Justice to the Moro identity and sovereignty must be seriously respected. But this task is far from simple,” he said. “Muslim and Christian religious leaders have a major role in this. Both the Koran and the Bible teach respect, understanding, reconciliation, and love.” – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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