Xavier U to honor Deles, Ferrer and Iqbal in graduation rites

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews/23 Feb) — Xavier University has invited Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles; Government Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer; and Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, as speaker and honorees for the 2015 graduation exercise.

Xavier University President Fr. Roberto C. Yap, SJ, said Deles will the commencement speaker and will be awarded with an Honorary Doctorate while both Ferrer and Iqbal will receive the Fr. William F. Masterson SJ Award for their “contribution to social development.”

The decision to honor these peacemakers drew both praises and criticisms from alumni of the Jesuit-run university.

“Students and parents might walk out of the graduation ceremony if the awards push through,” alumnus Chickoy Ozymandias posted on the Facebook  page of “Mata na CDO.”

Yap said the awards will help clear the air of confusion and emotions that have shrouded the government and MILF peace process.

Yap’s decision was welcomed by many alumni who praised the chance of hearing Deles, Ferrer and Iqbal.

“I can’t understand why some people go against awarding people for their conscientious and patient efforts in democratic dialogue and negotiation for peace in Mindanao,” Jojo del Castillo, also an alumnus, posted on the same page.

According to the university’s website, the Board of Trustees of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan approved the conferral of the awards to Deles, Ferrer and Iqbal.

“Xavier University wishes to honor these three leaders who have courageously walked the arduous way of peace. Xavier salutes these individuals for their conscientious and patient efforts to engage in democratic dialogues and negotiations for peace in Mindanao. Their diligent efforts, with countless others along the path of peace, have moved the nation closer to realizing the aspirations of our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters for meaningful self-determination to live their religious convictions and shared culture in peace and prosperity. XU wants to walk with these three leaders in the long journey to a just and lasting peace,” the Board of Trustees said.

“By conferring these awards during the 2015 Commencement Exercises, Xavier hopes to inspire her graduates to be brave and bold, and not be afraid to walk the demanding but necessary path of peace in our troubled island of Mindanao,” the Board said.

An article posted on the university website asked: “After Mamasapano, some have asked, should XU still proceed in conferring the awards?”

“We believe that answer should be yes. Despite their shortcomings, the leaders on both sides are clearly committed to peace. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has come to the table not seeking independence but with substantial compromises. And the Aquino administration is willing to test the boundaries of its powers to enact a new law that would give the Bangsamoro meaningful autonomy in a limited territory while preserving national sovereignty and national integrity. Within the framework of the 1987 Constitution, the Moro quest for a homeland where they live in prosperity as Filipinos fully integrated in the Philippine nation is possible through a path of peace,” the Board said.

The Board added that the three leaders are “partners in peace who eschew the ways of extremism and terrorism.”

“As a Jesuit University, Xavier participates in the Jesuit mission of reconciliation with God, with others and with creation; it seeks to serve the faith, promote justice, dialogue with culture and religions, and protect the environment. More than ever, especially after the Mamasapano tragedy, Xavier University signifies its support for staying the course in pursuing peace by honoring three leaders: Teresita Quintos-Deles, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, for their commitment to peace based on truth and justice,” the Board said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)