Tuesday, 14 February 2012 10:23
For the past few years, a good number of residents of the suburban barangay of Mampang, here in Zamboanga City, have been locked in a series of deadly conflict that resulted in many deaths among them. At one time, classes in the local public elementary school had to be abruptly suspended and pupils evacuated when a brazen daylight shooting incident raised fears that an all-out armed combat would erupt then and there.
The other day, in an event coinciding with the Muslims’ celebration of Mauluddin Nabi (birth of Prophet Mohammad, PBUH), the convenors and members of the city’s Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) sponsored and conducted the signing of a peace covenant among the families who have been involved one way or the other in the running conflict. The solemn ceremony was held in the multi-purpose center of the local public school, attended by officials from the Philippine National Police, barangay council, sundry residents and some Muslim and Christian religious leaders in and out of the village.
To its great credit, the peace-making and –building initiative came from within the community itself, notably by the newly-formed Salam Civilian Volunteers for Peace headed by Ustadz Nasir Usman, who is a resident of the place. The group has a membership of over 200 male residents in Mampang as well as many more in other barangays, said Usman.
During the preliminary part of the ceremony, IRSMP lead convenor Fr. Angel Calvo outlined three conditions for the people of Mampang to strive for if they are serious about re-establishing and enjoying peace and order.
Firstly, he said, the residents must recognize the need to live a life of dignity. For this, they must be able to satisfy their basic needs, such education for their children, food and nutrition, health, water, and so forth that eventually will ensure their human security and a regime of social equity for all, thus curbing any motive or occasion for deadly competition and conflict among themselves.
Secondly, he said, the residents should set up a system for the resolution of conflict and to pro-actively establish “right relationships”. The system will enable them to peacefully settle conflicts between residents or even to avoid quarrels. He reminded them that while conflict is inherent in human society, the hallmark of a civilized people is that they are able to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner.
Thirdly, Fr. Calvo advised them to nurture a “culture of peace”. This means residents practice a daily regimen that would see them nurturing and practicing respect for the dignity and rights of one another, of charity and mutual support among individuals and families and with authorities and their agencies.
When confronted with deadly conflict, he said, it is not enough to complain. Grab the bull by its horns and attempt to resolve your quarrel by your own selves; or better yet, do everything you can to prevent them from happening at all.
The “peace agreement” was signed between and among the leaders representing the families of barangay chairman Pedro Estrada, kagawad Delfin Pioquinto, Sebastians, De Los Reyeses, Franciscos, Ampings and Hassan-Alvarezes.
So how do you actualize and harvest real benefits from your peace covenant?, Peace Advocates Zamboanga vice-president Dr. Grace Rebollos challenged the people of Mampang. Failing that, she warned, despite of your good intentions life in Mampang – and elsewhere where deadly conflict is experienced – will be reduced to a brutish contest of “survival of the fittest”.
For such a decisive question, the ultimate answer can only come from the people of Mampang themselves, blazed by thoughtful and socially inclusive initiatives of leaders like Ustadz Nasir Usman – with a little yet unrelenting help from friends like the IRSMP.
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