Peace consultations begin in Quiapo, Baguio, GenSan

The schedule for the FGDs involvingMuslims in the area is in May but the date has yet to be finalized. But FGDs involving Muslims in Baguio, Quiapo, and Cebu have been done, says Fr. Albert Alejo, project team leader of Konsult Mindanaw!. an academe-based research team commissioned by the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) to undertake the dialogues  “in the service of the GRP-MILF peace talks as well as the broader peace process in Mindanao.”

The 30 FGDs  — 14 among Catholics on April 21 and 10 among Protestants and six among Lumads on April 22 — are part of the expected 300 FGDs that will be conducted in eight regional groupings – Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Caraga, Central Mindanao, Socsargen, Northeast Mindanao, Lanao del Norte and Outside Mindanao.

The FGDs among Muslims in Quiapo and Quezon City were held on April 18, among Muslims in Baguio on April 20 and among Muslims in Cebu on April 23.

The FGDs involve the following: from the “Christian sector,” the youth, grassroots/farmers/fisherfolk, professionals, business sector, women, religious, academe; from the “Muslim sector,” youth, grassroots/farmers/fisherfolk, professionals, businessmen, organized women, religious, madrasah, traditional leaders, Internally Displaced Persons/Bakwits, urban poor and academe; and from the “Lumad sector,”  farmers/fisherfolk, organized women, youth, tribal leaders and the urban poor.

Alejo told a press conference in early April that they hope to finish at least 300 FGD in eight regional groupings in Mindanao by end of May and hope to release regional results by mid-July.

“We hope the formal peace talks won’t reach an agreement yet by then,” Alejo said, adding,  “we hope we’re not too late.”

There is no progress as yet on the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks.

The two panels have yet to resume talks since the aborted formal signing of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on August 5 last year.

Participants to the FGDs  are asked four questions: “What is your vision of peace? What are your recommendations on the peace talks between the GRP and the MILF? What can you recommend on the broader peace process? What can you personally contribute – or even sacrifice – for peace in Mindanao?”

Most of the participants in the rooms MindaNews visited on April 21, said during the FGD that they were glad to have been consulted.

In one of the rooms, someone answered question number four by saying her contribution for peace would be to “raise my children to become good citizens.”

Participants were given Konsult Mindanaw! shirts after the FGDs. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)