Catholic school presidents in Mindanao call for “civility and sobriety, truth and justice”

The university and college presidents said that while there is a need to pursue justice for the aggrieved parties, “it is crucially important to ferret out the truth first and foremost.”

They urged both parties to “exercise maximum restraint, allow the conduct of this Joint Fact-Finding Committee, cooperate in this investigation, and mutually facilitate the closure of these tragic incidents.”

The government and MILF peace panels’ Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (Joint CCCH) had signed a Joint Resolution on July 23 to “observe maximum restraint while the incident is being resolved peacefully in accordance with the General Ceasefire Agreement and its implementing mechanisms.”

The two panels created a Joint Fact-Finding Team to “determine the proximate the cause of incident, possible violations to the ceasefire agreement, pinpoint persons responsible for acts of atrocities, and recommend measures to prevent its occurrence.”

The Joint Resolution signed by Brig. Gen. Edgardo Gurrea, government peace panel’s CCCH chair and Von Al Haq, chair of the MILF peace panel’s CCCH in the presence of Malaysian Maj. Gen. Dato Ismail Bin Ahmad Khan, Head of Mission of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), also set up a Mobile Joint Monitoring and Assistance Team to set up a monitoring center in a strategic location in Basilan “that could immediately respond to the crises situations thereat, in support of the Local Monitoring Team and other existing ceasefire mechanisms.”

 

 

In its seven-paragraph statement, the presidents of the Notre Dame University of Cotabato City, Notre Dame of Jolo College, Notre Dame of Midsayap College, Notre Dame of Kidapawan College, Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, Notre Dame of Marbel University, Ateneo de Davao University, Xavier University, and Ateneo de Zamboanga University, also urged “those on whose shoulders rest the power and authority to decide, NOT to get carried away by rush judgment. Compulsive action at this point will cause more harm on innocent civilians and could endanger the gains of our peace process.”

“We call upon the members of the Fact-Finding Committee to accomplish its mandate expeditiously and decisively at the soonest time possible. Delays and uncertainties in the conduct of the investigation amount to denial of justice,” they said.

The presidents also called on “leaders of our faith-based communities, civil society groups and other institutions to promote peace that is based on authentic social development,” and called on academic communities and people of goodwill “to be vigilant and to promote peace and solidarity.”

“Let genuine peace prevail in our hearts and in our land,” the statement concluded.

The statement was signed by Fr. Antonio S. Samson, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University;  Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ, president of the Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro; Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ, president of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University; Fr. Eduardo G. Tanudtanud, OMI, president of the Notre Dame University; Fr. Romeo S. Saniel, OMI, President of the Notre Dame of Midsayap College in North Cotabato;  Fr. Emmanuel A. Sison, OMI, president of the Notre Dame of Jolo College in Sulu; Bro. Wilfredo E. Lubrico, FMS, president of the Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City; Fr. John Anthony Y. Tan, FMS, president of the Notre Dame of Dadiangas, University in General Santos City and Bro. Ted A. Fernandez, FMS, of the Notre Dame of Kidapawan College in North Cotabato.

On Tuesday in Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles, the Ateneo de Zamboanga president, Fr. Angel Calvo of Peace Advocates Zamboanga, Fr. Sebastianao d’Ambra of Silsilah Dialogue Movement; and lawyer Arsenio Gonzales, Jr. of the Movement for a Better Zamboanga, issued a statement expressing their “grave concern for the safety and security of innocent civilians and non-combatants who are in danger of being caught in the ensuing military operations.”

In a nine-paragraph statement titled “A Call for Sobriety and Peace,” they said they are “saddened by the recent kidnapping of Father Gian Carlo Bossi and the resulting military-MILF encounter in Basilan which brought about the loss of lives of soldiers,” shared the grief of the bereaved families and comrades of the Marines who died in the encounter and support their call for justice but are “worried though by the call for retaliation and punitive action to exact revenge from those who desecrated and mutilated the bodies of the fallen soldiers.”

“We likewise fear for the dire consequences of an all-out clash between the military and the MILF on the gains of the peace initiatives in the area,” they said.

The Joint Statement expressed support for the conduct of an “expeditious investigation by an impartial body to ferret out the facts of the encounter between the Philippine Marines and the MILF and we appeal to the military to allow the probe body to conclude their investigation before starting any military operations against the MILF.”

“We call on all concerned to cooperate and assist the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) in the conduct of their investigation so that truth will surface and the culprits will be brought to justice,” the Joint Statement added.

The group appealed to “all our people to remain calm and exercise utmost sobriety so as not to exacerbate the situation.”

“Lastly, our dream is to have peace founded on real development. This is at once our prayer and our task,” the Joint Statement read. (MindaNews)

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