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Committed as One People to Rebuilding Zamboanga City

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On December 10, 2013 the Region-wide Leaders’ Summit took place in one of the function rooms of a local hotel in Zamboanga City. The event, working on the theme “Confidence Building, Reconstruction and Healing: What Muslims and Christian Leaders Can Do Together” was made possible through the efforts of the Darul Ifta and the Archdiocese of Zamboanga in coordination with the City Government of Zamboanga. The 250 persons who came to the day-long conference were a mix of leaders from the 3 convening groups.

Vice-Gov. of Sulu Sakur Tan said in his opening message that representatives of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and two other provinces in ARMM were also in attendance because they express solidarity with Zamboanga City over the suffering of the city and thousands of its citizens as a result of the MNLF attack on the city on September 9, 2013. It will be recalled that the attack which began in the wee hours of Monday, September 9 lasted 23 days with government forces and the rebels fighting within  a zone made up of 7 villages, an area just about 7 kilometers from City Hall. The 3-week fighting resulted in about 200 deaths and thousands displaced from their homes which were razed to the ground. The IDPs were housed in a sports center and public elementary school buildings and provided food and other services by the government and CSO groups.

Vice-Gov. Tan also expressed that any calamity that befalls Zamboanga City also impacts on the residents of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi because so many of the citizens who live in these three places come to Zamboanga City for education, medical consultations and business reasons. It is then  important  that the government units from these three provinces help the city recover as quickly as possible from the results of the war.

The office of ZC  Mayor Isabelle “Beng” Climaco-Salazar, through its Planning Division, gave the assembly an update on the reconstruction efforts of the city government in tandem with the national government. A number of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) gave short reports on what their respective groups did to assist the city and mitigate the adverse effects of the rebel attack. The Archdiocese, represented by Mons. Crisostomo Manongas, cited one specific action of the Archdiocese which was to put up low-cost houses in a property owned by the Archdiocese. The business sector was represented by Mr. Pocholo Soliven who said that the business community focused its efforts on restoring business activities back to normal as early as possible, like advocating with the Central Bank to get the local banks to reopen for business even if on shortened hours. The Darul Ifta and the group called ESPERANZA spoke of the various ways they helped the IDPs, a majority of whom are those of the Islamic faith.

The Summit was a beautiful example of the possibilities for good when faith groups, Muslims and Christians in this situation, join hands to help those in dire need of help.

At the end of the day’s event the attendees signed a covenant committing themselves to individual and group action in

§  “reconstructing a better and more habitable Zamboanga  where Muslims, Christians and indigenous people are living [in] harmonious existence.
§   [efforts]  to heal and mend the social fabric, torn by the recent war
§  committing [as one people]  to rebuilding a better and more peaceful society.”






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