DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 Sept) – The Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) will present the results of the consultations with stakeholders on the Mindanao peace process to President Rodrigo R. Duterte during its 20th anniversary at the Mergrande Ocean Resort on Monday.
Retired Davao City Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla told a press briefing Friday they had to wait for six years before they can present the results as the Aquino III administration ignored BUC’s role in the peace process.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commissioned BUC to do the consultations to know how Mindanawons view the peace talks and give the government a better idea on how to deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In a statement, Capalla thanked the Duterte administration for inviting the group to be a partner in promoting peace.
BUC also thanked Arroyo, a known supporter of the interfaith group, for her “moral and financial support for nine years”.
During the anniversary celebration Duterte will deliver his keynote speech before 100 Catholic and Protestant bishops, Muslim ulama, and pastors.
Capalla expressed optimism that that the peace processes with the National Democratic Front, MILF and Moro National Liberation Front will bear fruits under Duterte.
“If they realize the meaning of dialogue, the bottom line is friendship. If they can realize that then many things can be resolved. They can talk anything under the sun when the atmosphere is trust and ready to forgive if one makes a mistake, not confrontation,” he said.
He said BUC will continue its support to promoting human and moral values.
“In the peace process, there are human and moral values concerned, that is our cup of tea. We can always share to them, it is always what is right and what is wrong in the economic, political, cultural, and social issues today. There we can contribute,” he said.
Oliver Apud, World Vision Development Foundation Inc. peace and culture officer said they are hoping the peace talks with NDF, MILF and MNLF would succeed.
He lamented how the armed conflict has hampered the implementation of their programs.
The organization has worked for almost 60 years in Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, South Cotabato, Sarangani, and Agusan del Sur.
Its programs include installation of sanitizers in schools, child education sponsorship, and technical programs such as economic, health, nutrition, education, children protection, and disaster risk reduction and management.
Apud said armed conflict has prevented children from going to school due to fear of being caught in the crossfire, aside from displacing families.
“Our staff who conduct the programs are also prevented from entering the communities, that’s why the fights between the rebel groups and the government affect our organization and cause interruption in implementation of our programs,” he said.
“We have to catch up because there is a timeframe. But, along the way, our work would be stopped because an untoward incident takes place in the community, and that has a very big impact on our projects,” he said.
He said “rido” (clan wars) among tribes in Mindanao also affect their projects.
“We don’t set a high expectation (for the Duterte administration). What we are positive about is that there’s finally movement in the stalled peace negotiations with the NDF and MILF, and this is something to celebrate and hopeful about,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)