Ateneo de Davao University

Ateneo de Davao

BBL promotes interreligious dialogue

AS the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law lies in the hands of Congress, the PNoy administration is hopeful that it will be passed before Congress goes into recess for the May 9 national and local elections.

Many of us see that the BBL is a matter of political solution. I agree with this main idea. However, for me the BBL is actually a document that puts into action an interfaith dialogue. I will discuss this further below. BBL is not a perfect document. Just like any written agreements, there will always be some points that need further enhancement. It will be impossible for any parties come up with a perfect agreement. Thus, the BBL is a work in progress.

Unfortunately, the Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) version of some of our legislators is not a product of dialogue. It is actually a document that is contrary to the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB). It is a document of one party “trying to outsmart the other party”. Therefore, it may lead to a complete disaster once it is passed and implemented in the region.

Looking back in the last two to three decades, the Christians, Muslims, and indigenous peoples of Mindanao experienced a workable environment. Their respective religions is better at fostering peace than at fueling war. Although some would still argue, religion is the principal cause of the conflict. Based on my personal experience, I saw how religion helps build a community in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao. Religion helped people to better understand one another. We need to sustain this. The BBL has its potential to bridge the gap and strengthen the relationships at the community level.

What is interreligious dialogue (IDP)? Can it be applied to peace building? Allow me to be more academic in my discussion of this article. I will discuss the theory and its application in Mindanao.

Based on the learnings that I had with the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), the idea of inter religious dialogue for peace building is centered and developed from two genealogies or lineage.

According to my mentor in KAICIID, the IDP historical beginnings are cited to be both ancient and modern. He also said that it can be considered ancient as it was before the three “modern” wars began, World War I, II and the “Cold war”. It can also be considered ancient if we try to connect it with the idea of the crusades in the early Catholic beginnings.

Its modern beginnings were cited in an event in Chicago, in a first ever “academic” consensus among religions. It was noteworthy as it was the first time that actual taxed debates or in Foucault’s term discourses that did not involve trying to “win” over each other or in a sense “convert” each other but instead promote the idea of consensus and understanding instead.

IDP teaches that instead of trying to fight, discredit, or even destroy each other or in other words, leaning to a competition of superiority, we can start by understanding one another. In the 1900’s to the 1950’s several inter religious bodies are formed. This includes the following: International Association for Interreligious Freedom, World Congress of Faith movement, and the World Council of Churches. The most important part is when the second Vatican Council established an office for inter religious dialogue, which is considerable, as this time the Roman Catholic Church was finally ready to accept and foster understanding.

This will soon lead to its pinnacle, which is the Religion for Peace International.

I also learned in KAICIID about the work of Anne-Sophie Lamine. Ms. Lamine introduced a sociological-historical basis of her analysis of IDP.

She presented three transformational modalities. First is the diversification of religious identities forces rethinking of the identities or identity affirmation and recognition of authority.

Second, the emergence of various inter religious organizations that led to a movement. Third, is the change of religious institutions because of the pluralist society.

The sudden rise of religious identities and changes in institutions, leads the policy-makers, authorities, and other officials or in simple terms the government, to call upon these religious actors to actively participate and play leadership roles, in public policy, peace building, and especially in times of tragedy, which can be exemplified by the 9/11 attack. The rise of inter religious dialogues, lead to the assumption that to maintain harmony, understanding and cooperation is the answer and not discrimination.

This importance of dialogue has been more important after the Second World War, as there have been questions on the activities or rather the inactivity of the former Pope, which was considered the vanguard of peace by various countries.

The Cold War led to the development of exclusivist religions and extremely right-wing ideologies that are state formed, and controlled religions. The rise of the Islamists in which, it can be noticed that radical discrimination has been in its peak due to the attacks by Al Qaeda and other terrorists at America.

Thus, this lead to the rise of a social meaning of Islam as the religion of war, chaos, or evil, and Muslims as terrorists. The print, broadcast, and on-line media also worsen the situation. Thus, there was a need for religious groups to prove that cooperation and understanding must be given importance.

Bringing back the discussion at the local setting, yes, interreligious dialogue can be applied to peace building. The BBL is supported by Cardinal Quevedo and other Bishops, the Muslim religious leaders, and the different multi stakeholders in Mindanao.

Congress must understand that the BBL is a document that will promote inter religious dialogue and peace building in our country. They should not delay its implementation.