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City’s Week of Peace Starts with Assurance a Pact with MILF Is Imminent

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THE Week of Peace 2011 celebration kicked off with an assurance that the peace negotiations between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are edging towards “an agreement (that) will be reached and implementation of what has been agreed upon will be done”.

The revelation was made by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) assistant secretary Jehanne Mutin in her keynote message during the program that officially opened the week-long annual celebration on November 24.  

Mutin said that despite new complications caused by the recent military clashes in Al-Barka, Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay, “We will stay the course and continue negotiations as the terms of reference presented are slowly becoming equally favorable to both sides.”

“We are in high hopes that an agreement will be reached and implementation of what has been agreed will be done”, she told the over 30,000 people gathered at the Joaquin Enriquez Jr. Memorial Sports Complex.

The opening program was preceded by an over two-hour long parade participated in by students, soldiers, policemen, government personnel, urban poor, urban poor and many more including persons with disability.   The parade was led by the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), the local umbrella organization made up of peace advocates to include various cause-oriented non-government organizations and government agencies like the Commission on Human Rights.

Vice-Mayor Cesar Iturralde in his message in the same program said:  “I salute each and everyone of you for being here and for showing your willingness to take a stand, to make an effort, to take the time and to become engaged in the name of peace.  Your presence and your support on this cause is a more powerful tool towards achieving peace than any violent means.”

Later during the ceremony, Mayor Celso Lobregat joined the activity and also gave a short message.

Speaking on behalf of the Muslim community, IRSMP convenor Prof. Ali Yacub said: “The love of God and of neighbors is basic in our effort to seek peace and achieve it”, as he referred to the Week’s theme of “Common Word between Us and You: Love of God, Love of Neighbor” which was prepared by the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC).

Yacub elaborated on the theme by offering a prayer wherein he said:  “Let us be reconcilers and unifiers, not sowers of dissent.  Allow us to disseminate love where there is hate, forgiveness where there is injury, faith where there is doubt, hope where there is despair. . .:                  

IRSMP lead convenor and Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) president Fr. Angel Calvo read the BUC statement, which in part said:   “Christian and Muslim believers are called People of the Book the contents of which are believed to have been revealed by God/Allah Himself.  Because of this divine revelation, they believe they have a common origin and a common destiny which they can only achieve through a life based on “Love of God and Love of Neighbor”, a core commandment to know and to obey. . . For this reason, we urgently appeal to all Christians and Muslims in this country, in Asia and in the world to renew their faith and life by a thorough study, reflection and living out of this theme.”

Other activities during the Week will include the 6th National Samabadjao Movement Anniversary on Nov, 25; Blood for Peace sponsored by the Center for Peace and Development of Western Mindanao State University on Nov. 25; Historical and Solidarity Journey in Taluksangay Barangay sponsored by the Liga de Barangay and Dept. of Interior and Local Government city office on Nov. 26;

Peace Weavers Awards Night on Nov. 27; Wall of Peace mural painting on Nov. 28; Ka PEACE ta! Forum and Mindanao Youth Peace Forum in WMSU on Nov. 29; Sta. Cruz Island Coastal Cleanup on Nov. 30; Peace Ecology in WMSU on Dec. 1; and the closing torch parade on Dec. 1 capped by a musical festival in Paseo del Mar.

This year’s Peace Weaver Awards are:  the late Mayor Cesar Climaco and late Fr. Fausto Tentorio – both posthumous; Human Rights Commissioner Atty. Jose Manuel Mamauag; Ayala National High School principal Dr. Socorro Canaya; Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer; and, Claret School of Tumahubong.  The awarding ceremony shall be held in Garden Orchid Hotel.

PAZ vice-president Dr. Grace Rebollos in her welcome address noted that the BUC has bean spearheading inter-religious advocacies in Mindanao since it was founded in 2000 in a convention in Zamboanga City.  The BUC then immediately adopted the city’s Week of Peace celebration, which was started in Zamboanga by PAZ and a partner Muslim organization, for Mindanao-wide observance. 

Press Release/Peace Advocates Zamboanga





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