Lanao NGOs sign Peace Declaration

These are the two of 11 points stated in a Peace Declaration signed by a hundred multi-sectoral and inter-religious participants during a Peace Summit Monday at the Elena Tower Inn. The summit is one of the activities lined up for the annual Mindanao Week of Peace which ends December 6.

Juanito Enriquez Jr., president of the Civil Society Organization-Forum for Peace (CSOFP) said the Summit led to the crafting of a Peace Declaration by villagers of conflict-affected areas to encourage the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel to continue the negotiations.

The summit’s theme was “sincere dialogue is the way to lasting peace.”

Among the participants were leaders of internally displaced villagers,  farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor, religious and traditional leaders, women, youth, local officials, academe and professionals, non-governmental, and civic organizations in Lanao provinces and the cities of Iligan and Marawi.

The participants declared that “peace is a fundamental human right” and “peace is essential for the development of our communities and for our lives.”

The Peace Declaration said government “must prioritize the delivery of basic social services such as education, health, shelter, livelihood, roads, and infrastructure projects among others in conflict areas; ensure that all interventions to address the physical, emotional, psychological and social rehabilitation of conflict areas be implemented, enhanced and sustained; advocate to mainstream peace and development to include traditional structures among Moro and indigenous communities; implement the integration and institutionalization of peace education in our curriculum;  promote information dissemination on the present status of peace negotiations between GRP and MILF at the grassroots level.”

The Peace Declaration also made a call for disarmament; for support to legislation that will resolve conflicting laws such as Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and the Mining Law;  for the promotion of transparent and consultative peace process and governance for the total development of tri-people communities in Mindanao; and advocate for peace journalism.

In the workshop during that summit, sectors revealed varied conflict situations in their respective places. But they share common past, fears, anxieties and anxiety over “rumored attacks.”

A barangay official stood to ask guests from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) to assure them that no war will happen again in Lanao.

The copies of the signed Peace Declaration will be given to government and MILF peace panels, peace networks in Mindanao and of the country, government officials, traditional and religious leaders.

Representatives from OPPAP, CCCH, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) also graced the occasion.

Earlier, on November 27, an Ulama Forum was conducted in Marawi while civil society organizations in Lanao del Norte held a Peace caravan from Iligan City  to Tubod, Lanao Norte were peace-related materials were distributed to town officials.

Musa Sanguila of Pakigdait and Kapamagogopa said “participants of the caravan manifested their commitments for peace by marking their hands on a peace monument”  as tribal leaders of Subanon community do when resolving land conflicts in Zamboanga provinces.

 

Members of the non-governmental Disaster Management Committee in Lanao del Norte had a three-day seminar on Disaster Preparedness and Management on  November 28 to 30 in this city.

At the Mindanao State University campus in Marawi City, peace advocates held an “Exercise for Peace” activity at the oval on December 2 and a concert on December 3.

On December 9, singer-composer Gary Granada, a Mindanawon, will have a peace concert at Iligan Capitol College.

Reconciliation Initiatives for Development and Opportunities (RIDO), a newly-organized non-governmental organization, will also conduct peace education for Maranao women this month.

Some non-governmental organizations in Lanao and Iligan City will also join the Peace Caravan towards a Peace Summit in Lamitan, Basilan. They will leave Iligan on December 10, hold rallies in identified stopover towns in Zamboanga peninsula and end with a Peace Summit in Basilan on December 16.

VSO Peace Mindanao, European Union, British Embassy, CAFOD and others assisted in helping make possible a meaningful Mindanao Week of Peace.

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