Christians, Muslims in GenSan exchange thanks

City Mayor Pedro B. Acharon Jr. appreciated the Muslim volunteers who helped authorities in securing Christians during the All Souls Day, All Saints Day and Christmas celebrations this year. He said such gesture contributed to the furtherance of the harmonious Muslim-Christian relationship in the city

In the "2006 year-end report", a report on the accomplishments of the city government aired over ABS-CBN station this morning, Acharon said they were able to bring Muslims into the mainstream of society.

"Muslim volunteers secured cemeteries during All Saints and All Souls days, and during the 'Misa de Gallo,' nakabantay sila sa labas ng mga simbahan (they secured the perimeters of churches)," he said.

The Sugoda Buayan Royal House and the General Santos City Muslim Council of Elders which spearheaded the volunteers thanked the police and military for trusting the local Muslim community.

They noted that Muslim volunteers worked alongside policemen and soldiers during the All Saints and All Souls Days and Christmas celebrations here.

In reaction to reports on October 30 that some terror groups wanted to sabotage the All Souls and All Saints Days celebrations, at least 200 Maranaos, Tausugs, Maguindanaons, Sangirs  and Yakans immediately volunteered to assist authorities in securing the public market, cemeteries and vital installations in the city.

The local Moro National Liberation Front – Joint Monitoring Committee also helped in gathering intelligence data.

Raja Muda Alimudin Hassan, head of SBRH, likewise thanked the Christian groups and individuals who joined the Muslims in the Eid’l Fitr celebration last October 23 at Purok Maguindanao in Barangay Labangal where at least 1,000 gathered for breakfast and lunch.

Free medical and dental services, which benefited hundreds of Muslims and Christians even from adjacent barangays, were also provided.

In support to the Mindanao Week of Peace on November 30 to December 6, Muslims, Lumads and Christians from different sectors joined the celebration. A Peace Symposium, Walk for Peace, and Arts Exhibit entitled "Itanum Kalinaw" (Sow Peace), were conducted in different venues in the city in order to awaken public awareness on the essence of peace for Mindanao.

"We hope that respect and understanding between Muslims, Lumads and Christian will continuously prevail among us," said Jocelyn Lambac, vice president of the Young Moro Professionals Council- SOCSKSARGEN.

"And this shall eradicate discrimination among the Muslims and Lumads who are minorities in this city," Lambac, peace advocate who just received the General Santos City Youth Achievers Award, added.

In an open forum December 4 during the Peace Symposium held in Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, this city, Datu Jahal Adat lamented the presence of discrimination against Muslims by some business establishment who refused to hire Muslim job applicants.

Muslims and some Lumads present during the said symposium called for an end of discrimination against them to achieve peaceful coexistence of various tribes of the city.

Raja Muda Hassan is hopeful that the "volunteerism" practiced by Muslims in this city would be replicated in other parts of the country for it narrows the gap between Muslims and Christians. (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo/MindaNews)