Congress urged to help end Mindanao's agony

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

File photo courtesy of Ferdinandh Cabrera

About a thousand residents, many of whom from the ranks of youth, marked the start of Christendom’s observance of Holy Week by taking part in an early morning “Walk for Peace” on Sunday.

The participants walked at least two kilometers to dramatize their call not to abandon the peace process between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


From three starting points in the outskirts of the urban district, they all converged at the public plaza where the cultural presentations by Higaonon and Maranao youth capped the event as part of the city’s observance of the Iligan Week of Peace.

“Through their action on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), we expect our legislators to herald hope for a suffering region, and not be a harbinger of continued desperation,” said Juanito Enriquez Jr., managing director of local coalition Civil Society Organizations Forum for Peace (CSOFP).

“The BBL embodies the hopes and dreams, not just of the Moros but also the indigenous peoples and the settler communities. It’s writing has enjoyed inputs from the grassroots peoples through the conduct of massive public consultations,” he added.

In a statement, Esmail Abdullah of the Kalilintad Development Foundation said the BBL is the “best chance to achieve sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro areas.”

“Without this new paradigm offered by the BBL, their lives will never change. They will continue to live in a vicious cycle of war and poverty,” Abdullah pointed out.

He added that legislators must be convinced “to take the side of peace lest they lose the chance to re-write our nation’s history.”

“Together, let us inform the people’s representatives in Congress that it is not cowardice to rethink their positions. Rather, it is bravery to embrace genuine reform. Let this be our shared plea as one people—Muslims, Christians, Lumads,” Abdullah further said.

For his part, Bishop Felixberto Calang of Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Cagayan de Oro, said that today's leaders still resemble the kind of leadership exercised during Christ's era.

"The leaders then and now still don't understand and recognize the needs of the people. They still don't act on addressing the root causes of poverty. They have perpetuated the corruption during Christ's time up to this day," Calang told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone on Sunday.

Even in handling the conflict in Mindanao, Calang said, these leaders have not come to recognize the root causes of the Moro dissent.

"We pray and knock on their senses and hearts to finally put a resolution to this decades-old conflict by recognizing what the Moro needs and allowing the Moro people to fully exercise self-determination to ebb the tide of conflict that only bring displacement, hungers and deaths," Calang said.

Calang hopes that as the Christian communities around the world observe the Lent, the flock will be more reflective of the sacrifices that Jesus Christ opted to redeem His people from sins, poverty and domination. "The sacrifices Jesus did only manifested His love on His people." (With a report from GCA/Sunnex/Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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