The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in his speech, who attended the international meeting dubbed as “Path of Peace” convened by Sant`Egidio in Germany, Rome, Sant`Egidio

Religious leaders, CSOs convene in Rome; cry for Peace in Mindanao

CAMP DARAPANAN — Christian leaders and representatives of civil society organizations of Mindanao gathered together with the Community of Sant`Egidio and cried for peace in Mindanao in the presence of Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim who attended the international meeting dubbed as “Path of Peace” convened by Sant`Egidio in Germany, Rome, Sant`Egidio on September 15.

A press statement said “Our hearts cry for peace. We felt the suffering of the displaced people of Marawi and the whole region, particularly the ongoing ordeal of innocent hostages inside the city.”

“We experienced helplessness as well as righteous indignation while the weapons of destruction daily increase the death toll of combatants and civilians”, it continued.

The statement added that Marawi dramatizes three interconnected challenges to peace in Mindanao; violent extremism and terrorism; the uncertainties of the implementation of the political peace process; the crucial role of religious leaders and communities in the rebuilding and development of Marawi. 

The delegates from Mindanao and participants in Rome had issued a unified declaration signed by H.E. Msgr. Anthony Ledesma, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro; H.E. Msgr. Edwin dela Pena, Bishop of Marawi Lanao del Sur; Ms. Monaliza Pangan, witness from Marawi City; H.E. Dr. Said Zamashari Salendab, the Secretary General of the Hayatul Ulama in Mindanao; Dr. Ustadz Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, Executive Director of Regional Darul Ifta in ARMM; Dr. Mauro Garofalo, Head of International Relations of Community of Sant`Egidio; Prof. Alberto Quattrucci, the Secretary General of Peoples and Religious, Community of Sant`Egidio.

They declared the following statement:

1. The conflict in Marawi is not a religious war, it is a war against terrorism and violent extremism. There are many stories of mutual assistance between Muslims and Christians that attest the rejection of this evil. These stories of solidarity likewise witness the Filipinos` sense of sharing a common humanity with any one in need, regardless of creed or community.

2. We call for inclusion of peace education at all levels in our schools, ‘madaris’ (Muslim Religious Schools) and communities. We need to build a culture of peace based on personal integrity, respect for human rights, inter-cultural dialogue, care for the environment, peaceful coexistence and eradication of poverty. Islam and Christianity are religion of peace. We recall the worlds of Adrea Riccardi, founder of Sant`Egidio, that “war is the mother of all poverty.”

3. Inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue should be promoted as means of understanding and appreciating other cultures and religions and enhancing cooperation. This dialogue must move from the highest level to the grassroots levels of society. Dialogue starts with self-examination to remove biases and prejudices.

4. We welcome current efforts at writing a more inclusive history of Mindanao that explore the root cause of conflict and depicts significant events and personalities from Muslim and indigenous people communities.

The participants also committed themselves to reach out the youth, who will be the said future leaders of Mindanao communities. 

“They have so much to contribute towards building our communities with a renewed vision of Mindanao as our shared homeland”, it stressed.

The participants had urged the Philippine government to fast track the implementation of the government and the MILF peace process.  

“We appeal to our legislatures and government officials to prioritize and expedite the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This has been delayed since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2014. An approved BBL, shall provide positive alternative to violent extremism,” it added.

The statement further said “We fully endorse the call of Duyog Marawi (Accompany Marawi), spearheaded by the Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi together with local government units and civil society organizations. The united efforts of volunteers of different faiths are the best example of working and living together in peace and solidarity.”

The religious leaders’ and representatives of civil society organizations also committed to act upon this declaration.

They expressed their profound gratitude to the community of Sant`Egidio in initiating the informal dialogue on the peace process in Mindanao and had asked the same Community to carry on this conversation with all those who seek peace.