MindaNews, 6 others cited as peace champions

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 December) – MindaNews and six other awardees were cited as Mindanao peace champions in a kanduli (thanksgiving) Thursday night hosted by the ACT for Peace Programme at the Apo View Hotel here.

“MindaNews reports embody integrity, honesty, a conscious search for truth, sensitivity and respect for faiths and cultures, promotion of peace amidst pluralism and environmental advocacy,” the citation said.

ACT for Peace likewise noted MindaNews’ other programs such as research, publication and journalism trainings both for journalists and non-journalists. MindaNews recently concluded two documentation and reporting trainings for grassroots organizations in the Caraga Region.

MindaNews editor-in-chief H. Marcos C. Mordeno received the award in behalf of the news organization.

Also named peace champions were Muslim scholar Amina Rasul-Bernardo, women’s rights advocate Irene Santiago, former secretary Jesus Dureza, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, and the Bishops-Ulama Conference initiated by Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla.

Rasul-Bernardo is a noted peace and human rights advocate and the director of the Philippine Council on Islam and Democracy, dedicated to the study of Islamic and democratic political thought and the search for peace, democracy and development in Muslim communities. She was the first Filipino invited as a Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC.

Santiago is chair and chief executive office of the Mindanao Commission on Women and convenor of the Mothers for Peace. She is known here and abroad for her advocacy on women’s rights and welfare. She was a member of the GRP peace panel in talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from 2001-2004 and a senior adviser to the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process from 2006 to May 2008.

Dureza served as chair of the GRP panel in talks with the MILF before becoming the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process under the Arroyo administration where he also held the positions of Press Secretary, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and the Presidential Adviser on Mindanao. He is now the publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times.

Arnado is the secretary general of the Mindanao People’s Caucus, a network of Moro, Lumad and Christian settlers bound by the common aspiration for peace in the island region. In 2003, she helped mobilized some 10,000 “bakwits” (people displaced by war) who successfully initiated a ceasefire between the Philippine military and the MILF. Two months ago today, her group launched the All-Women Contingent of the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team.

Ferrer is the newly-installed chief of the Western Mindanao Command which covers the Zamboanga Peninsula and the southernmost islands of Mindanao. He has strongly advocated incorporating peace lens in the security sector to enable men and women in uniform to appreciate the culture of peace and hone their skills in peacebuilding work. He teamed up with the Balay Mindanaw Foundation in holding seminar-workshops called Operation Peace Course or Op Kors for officers, enlisted personnel as well as members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit.

The BUC is a dialogue forum consisting of Catholic and Protestant bishops of Mindanao and Muslim religious leaders (Ulama) who affirm their common commitment to the peace process. These religious leaders acknowledge the importance of recognizing and respecting religious and cultural diversity. The BUC has institutionalized the celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace in a bid to further promote understanding, peace and unity among the island’s Muslim, Lumad and Christian inhabitants.

The citation from the ACT for Peace was the second peace award received by MindaNews. Last November 19, it was conferred the Ateneo Peace Award by the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. (MindaNews)