Islamic rebels and other Filipinos have expressed confidence that the elevation of Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato as Cardinal will hasten the peace process in conflict-torn Mindanao islands.
"The cardinal-designate's voice will surely have weight and he can
guide the peace talks to be pro-God, pro-people, devoid of selfish
interest, but only for the welfare of the whole people of Mindanao,"
Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela said.
Isabela falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao. Islamic separatist groups demand the
creation of a Muslim country in the southern island of Mindanao.
a peace treaty signed in 1996, hostilities between rebels and central
authorities still break out from time to time.
The rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front welcomed the elevation of
Archbishop Quevedo. "It's good for peace efforts in Mindanao," rebel
spokesman Mohagher Iqbal said.
The eighth Filipino to be made Cardinal, Quevedo was at the forefront
of peace efforts in the southern Philippines over the past two decades.
In a 2003 paper titled "Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao,"
Quevedo said that injustice to the Moro people's identity, political
sovereignty, and integral development was the root cause of the Moro
rebellion in the southern Philippines.
"Through the years I have gained
some understanding of the Moro viewpoint that has significantly
influenced, even altered, my Christian viewpoint... being with Muslim
students and professionals for many years," he wrote.
Father Louis Lougen, Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of
Mary Immaculate, the religious congregation which Quevedo belongs to,
said by naming Archbishop Quevedo, Pope Francis was giving a signal to
all what kind of Church one was called to be.
“It is the recognition of a
very committed missionary, a priest and bishop who leads by serving
others, whose main concern is the Gospel and the poor and who has worked
tirelessly to promote friendship between Christians and Muslims, to
support their struggle to live together in respect and peace."
Cardinals from Philippines had so far been selected from the
important arch-dioceses of Manila and Cebu, five and two respectively.
This is the first time a cardinal has been selected from Cotabato.