Wednesday, 23 March 2011 16:13
The Young Moro Professionals Network-Western Mindanao spearheaded the week-long celebration of the Bangsamoro Peace Week which commenced last March 18, 2011 at Zamboanga City.
Aimed at raising awareness of the Bangsamoro Consciousness and Identity, the YMPN-WM conducted several activities anchored on the theme, “Revisiting Our Past, Forging Our Future” to include the Photo Exhibit held at the The Gallery of the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Archipelago of Sulu, Ateneo de Zamboanga University and Bangsamoro Peace Forum at Western Mindanao State University last March 19, 2011.
YMPN-WM Chairperson Amir Mawalil disclosed that the “Bangsamoro peace week is a consciousness awareness week for peace and development, not just of the Muslims but of the Non-Muslim as well”. With the support of the members of the network, “Indeed the forum was very successful” he added.
Resource Speakers during the forum were Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, Lead Convenor of the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace and Peace Advocates Zamboanga President, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Commissioner Edilwasif Baddiri and former WMSU Regent Esnaen Katong, Mr. Abduljalil Umngan, Executive Secretary of Undersecretary Jehanne Mutin of the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Samira Ali-Gutoc, Director of Al-Amanah Bank and one of the Founding members of the Network.
“Revisiting the past, forging our future” was the central theme of the discussion with inputs on the Bangsamoro Struggle: Then and Now, Bangsamoro Youth, Governments program for the Bangsamoro and Role of Women in the Peace process.
Prof. Esnaen Katong shared that “the Jabidah Massacre was one of the turning points in the History of the Bangsamoro struggle”. It was considered one of the tragic events where dozens of Moro recruits training in Corregidor Islands were massacred by the government forces in 1968. The challenge for all of us is to “revisit and understand the history of the country and examine the roles of Muslim heroes in the context of peace and justice.
Atty. Eidil Baddiri emphasizes the role of education as an important element for all of us to move forward. Serving as one of his greatest information, a good Muslim has good foundation in his/her education. The Muslim youth can serve as great agents of peace and development for Mindanao and the country.
He also added that the commission, referring to NCMF will launched the Muslim Community Youth Paralegal program, aiding brothers and sisters caught in conflicts against the law.
Fr. Angel C. Calvo, CMF emphasized certain points in his solidarity statement. Inspired with the initiatives of the YMPN, he said that Islamic Leadership is one of the main inspirations so that the youth can move forward. “Learn from the past, understand the real roots of our Moro History and use Islamic inspiration to dream for a better tomorrow”. He added that youth can engaged in three points: leadership, Entrepreneurship and use Ethics as fundamental pricciples for the next generation’s Bangsamoro peace.
Meanwhile, emphasizing on knowing the law to know their rights, gender consultant Samira Gutoc of Young Moro Professionals Network-Mindanao urged women to assert their role on issues affecting Muslim communities in the Philippines.
Gutoc presented on the Role of Women in Peace Processes.
“To the MILF and Government, I say gender cannot be put at the backburner. Women’s issues must be put at the center of the negotiating table as they are crucial to resolving the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.” She disclosed among the participants of the said forum.
She quoted the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security which “expressed concern that civilians, particularly women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict…”
She also quoted a former GRP negotiator Inday Santiago who said, "You cannot achieve any kind of just and enduring peace without taking the role of gender into account. How do you deal with the issues of security, development, participation and decision-making, and identity, if you do not include women?"
She also cited a Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing that a great majority of Filipinos believe that women are better peacemakers.
“Gender is about relationships between men and women and thus not a women’s concern alone, she clarified. Peacetalks are about power often. When women are not part of such processes, they are disempowered.”
Also, she urged young people to go on summer leadership and community programs particularly serving Badjao minorities and partner with groups such as Save the Children. She also noted that social action centers within universities such as Ateneo and WMSU are critical in creating spaces for volunteerism to serve communities were women need counseling, support and training.
The said forum honored the works of the youth and still encourages more youth to be actively involved in the many causes for peace and development of our communities. The YMPN-WM together with other youth groups to include the Youth Solidarity for Peace, youth arm of PAZ and IRSMP will forge alliance in crafting more solutions and plans for the cause of peace.
The celebration, first here in Zamboanga City will serve as another milestone for peace with the aim to do the same in areas with in the region and nearby provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.
Peace and development for the Bangsamoro Youth can be achieved if we put Allah (SAW) in to our hearts and let his message revealed through prophet Muhammad (SAW) be showered unto us. Peace is the only way.
By Aldrin Abdurahim
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