Quevedo hopes Pope Francis visits Mindanao

By Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2014 03:25 PM | Updated as of Jun 10 2014 11:25 PM

MANILA - Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo expressed his desire for Pope Francis to visit Mindanao when he comes to the Philippines on January 2015.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress on Tuesday, Quevedo said the Pope's visit to Mindanao, particularly Cotabato, would boost the peace process in the region, as he had done during his visit in Palestine where he made a call for peace and reconciliation between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Church officials earlier confirmed that the Pope would come to the Philippines in January next year, where he is expected to visit the victims of disasters in the Visayas, particularly in Bohol and Leyte.

Even though the Pope's official itinerary for the visit is to be confirmed by July, Quevedo said it would be nice for the Pope to make a side trip to visit Cotabato City.

"This shows that the support of the Holy See for the victims of disaster is not only material, but he also shows solidarity with us. The distant Rome will be near to us especially for victims of natural disasters," the cardinal said.

"But disasters are of two types: natural and man-made. The people of Mindanao are victims too," he said.

Meanwhile, Quevedo said the people in Mindanao are still optimistic that the Bangsamoro law would be passed in the soonest time.

This is even if the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law has yet to be passed to Congress from the Office of the President, where it is undergoing extensive review.

They believe the law will be passed in 2016.

"The general feeling after the peace agreement is hope, we are optimistic that the draft of the Bangsamoro law will be passed and it would really be a basis for a just and lasting peace," Quevedo said.

He said he is casually in talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who is also patient on the matter.

"They know the difficulties of the evaluation process in the president's office. The president is studying and reviewing it very carefully the draft so there are no more questions on the constitutionality," he said.