Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla introduced Dr. Hamid Barra of the Mindanao State University as the new BUC co-convenor at the start of the 3rd Meeting of the BUC-AFP-PNP Forum for Peace here Monday afternoon.
In a brief address, Barra vowed to pursue the peace advocacy led by Mutilan.
He told around 50 bishops, military and police leaders attending the meeting at the Pine Hills Hotel, however that his assumption is only temporary as they are set to reorganize the ULP next month.
Mutilan, a religious scholar and political leader, who also served as Vice Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), three-term governor of Lanao del Sur, Marawi City mayor and member of the government peace panel in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), died in a vehicular accident early morning on December 6, while on his way to Cagayan de Oro from Marawi City.
He was described by Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza as "a giant in our peace development advocacy in Mindanao."
Mindanao's bishops and ulama and the country's top brass in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), agreed in August 2007 to set up a quarterly forum to continue their "Dialogue on Peace."
The dialogue's main aim is "how to cooperate with one another in the continuing search for peace in Mindanao,” given their "overwhelming consensus" on three "important convictions” – that “peace-making is the task of every citizen; that religious leaders and official peacekeepers have a key role to play in this task; and that peace is the fruit of respectful dialogue."
Capalla said the Davao meeting was "organizational" while the first formal meeting of the forum was held in Camp Crame on September 12, 2007 then in Cagayan de Oro on November 16.
Among those mentioned to be discussed in the Malaybalay meeting is a report from Fr. Pete Lamata from the Pastors'-Priests-Imams Conference and another report on the 2007 Mindanao Week of Peace whose theme was "Building Bridges of Peace with our Peace Officers."
Capalla also mentioned some priests were expected to raise peace concerns from their parishes around Mindanao.
But Capalla asked reporters to leave the conference hall after Malaybalay Bishop Honesto Pacana gave a welcome remarks and as they were about to hear presentations from some personalities.
Reporters complained of lack of coordination and inconvenience when they were told the forum participants "might agree to hold a press conference after the meeting." (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)