June 18,2012 News: Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel have held a dialogue with members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) inside the “walled city” or Intramuros in Manila last June 14 in the morning.
Intramuros is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Nicknamed the Walled City, the fortified Intramuros was the seat of government during the Spanish Colonial Period. Its name in Latin, intramuros, literally means "within the walls".
The Multi-Stakeholders Forum, as called by organizers, was made possible through the efforts of the Mindanao Solidarity Network, Mindanao People’s Caucus, and the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc.; and the men and women, who made this forum possible, among others, were Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, Ms. Karen Tañada, Paul Paraguya, and Sister Arnold.
The MILF peace panel was in full force including its head of its secretariat, Jun Mantawil. The delegation was composed of Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Bobby Alonto, Abhoud Syed Lingga, Abdulla Camlian, and Datu Antonio Kinoc, an alternate panel member.
At least two archbishops or bishops attended the forum namely, Antonio Ledesma, Edu Gariguez of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace, and Deogracias Iniquez. Other distinguished personalities also attended the forum including Prof. Julkipli Wadi, Dean of the School of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines, Susan Macabuat of the Bayani Foundation, and Max De Mesa of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).
Wadi, in his response to the theme of the forum, said, among other things, that the MILF is the most reasonable revolutionary group which the Philippine government can talk to solve the Mindanao problem.
Iqbal called on the CBCP to make a definite stand in support of the peace negotiation in Mindanao, which he earnestly believed can make a difference in terms of swinging people’s decision rally behind the peace efforts in Mindanao.
Iqbal told Luwaran that only five out of 21 bishops in Mindanao are clearly supporting the peace process and the rest are mostly silent while at least one bishop actively campaign against Moro empowerment in Mindanao.
“That is why we appeal to them to them to engage in a positive way in the negotiation,” said Iqbal.
Reported by the Manila Bulletin, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma concurred with Iqbal’s view, saying the CBCP should take a stand on the peace negotiations.
“I think the CBCP should also talk about it because it is really important,” he opined.
According to organizers, the forum was designed for the whole day, the MILF peace panel in the morning and the government peace panel in the afternoon, which sent panel member Yasmin Busran-Lao, Panel Secretariat head, Iona Jalijali, and secretariat member, Lawyer Johaira Wahab.
The same sortie in Metropolitan Manila from June 13 to June 17, the MILF peace panel also had dialogues with members of the diplomatic community, diplomats of the European Union, members of the mass media, and Moro businessmen in Greenhills in San Juan.