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Spanish Humanitarian Aid Chief meets with Local Interfaith Group on Peace Process

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The city’s former Division of Schools Superintendent has urged the Spanish government to throw its support behind the Department of Education’s four-year old yet underfunded peace education program.

Former education official Abdu Rahim Kenoh addressed the appeal to Don Vicente Selles, general coordinator of the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional Para el Desarollo (AECID) in a forum between the latter and members of the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP).  The dialogue was held in the evening of Tuesday, February 28, at the Zion Evangelical School, who hosted the event as member of the local peace organization. 
Selles was briefed by convenors and key members of IRSMP on recent and current projects of the civil society group related to efforts to strengthen peace-making in Zamboanga City. Among these, Kenoh informed Selles that although IRSMP has been training peace-teaching skills to teachers in over 40 public schools here todate, the program suffers from a serious lack of teaching materials that the teachers need in their classrooms.  Kenoh noted that although Deped issued a circular in 2007 ordering peace-building instructions in public schools, no funds have been allocated for the purpose.
Kenoh made the appeal after Selles himself briefed the IRSMP on the three assistance priorities of Spain in the Philippines.  These are support for basic health and water supply, education, and the peace process, altogether funded by an annual grant of some P1.2-billion.  These humanitarian and community development investments are concentrated in the regions of Bicol, CARAGA, and Mindanao and are channeled through government as well as civil society organizations, Selles bared.
He said Spain is particularly interested in the ongoing peace process in Mindanao, even as he essayed the belief that the best way to bring peace is by promoting the social and economic well-being of marginalized and underprivileged residents.  He indicated that AECID will continue to extend assistance to IRSMP through its secretariat Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ).
The IRSMP has a multi-faith membership, including indigenous communities and was formed some 10 years ago.  It is presently spearheaded by convenors Nulhamdo Cegales (Samabadjao), Prof. Ali Yacub (Muslims), Fr. Angel Calvo (R. Catholics) and Pastor Paulino Ersando (evangelicals).  Ersando, president of Zion  school, opened the forum with his welcome message. 
Selles came to Zamboanga in the entourage of Spanish Ambassador D. Jorge Domecq as guests of honor of the city government in Sunday’s celebration of the 75th Dia de Zamboanga anniversary.  (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)




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