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Silsilah Hosts 41st Bishop – Ulama Conference


The Silsilah Dialogue Movement for Dialogue and Peace hosted the 41st Bishop – Ulama Conference last Nov. 13 – 14, 2013 at its headquarters in Harmony Village, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City.

1st Bishops-Ulama Conference held at Harmony Village, during the message of City Mayor Beng Climaco

A total of 22 catholic, protestant and muslim participants attended the conference some coming from places like Cagayan, Lanao, Cotabato, Pagadian. The conference was convend as a result of the Zamboanga Crises when MNLF followers of Nur Misuari attacked and burned Zamboanga City on Sept. 9, 2013. Principal convenor was Bishop Emeritus of Davao, Fernando Capalla, D.D. who issued a joint statement with Prof. Salipada Tamano, representing the Ulama League of the Philippines and Bishop Danilo Bustamante representing the ECP- NCCP. The statement entitled Dialogue and Hope: Key to Peace condemned the MNLF attack as “inhuman, unchristian, un-Islamic and therefore unacceptable and contrary to the teachings of our respective religious faiths.”

In the joint statement, the BUC offered to be the convenor of peace negotiations and expressed the desire to get at the rock – bottom of the issues confronting the rebel movements and the national government,” and asked the following questions:

1. “Why was the 1996 Peace Agreement between the Philippine
Government and the Moro National Front not fully implemented?”

2. “Why was the Sabah Issue not included in the Framework
Agreement between the present administrations of Benigno Simeon
C. Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front?”

3. “Why are the two groups – MNLF and MILF who profess to be followers of Islam – not united as one?
Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco Salazar who welcomed the participants talked of “synergy of the Zamboangueño, muslim and lumad to listen to the different people to know how to rebuild Zamboanga City.” She talked of being “consistently good all the time if we are to help people all the time and to continue the dialogue for the sake of our people.”

In the afternoon a press conference was held with reporters from TV-11 and ABS-CBN present where the joint statement was read by Bishop Capalla and Ulama Alibasher Abdulatif. Then each participant signed the joint statement. The BUC was asked if it did any intervention to Misuari so the siege won’t happen. Bishop Capalla said they were not here when it happened but any violence is condemnable and unacceptable. When asked whether the BUC is doing anything about the deaths in the evacuation centers, Bishop Capalla said the BUC is a group of spiritual leaders and they are asking the government to look into this. The BUC was also asked what it can do to prevent a repetition of the siege. Bishop Capalla said: “We offer ourselves to negotiate. We have no police powers. We can only get the groups together to talk. Maybe we failed in making muslims and Christians understand each other. We are sorry for that. We are not perfect but we will try to improve our leadership of moral values.”

When the BUC was asked if they would accept to be custodians of Misuari should he decide to come back, Bishop Capalla said they would if Misuari wants it. Bishop Capalla said: “If he comes for peace, welcome! We are one family – muslims and Christians.

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