IN PHOTO- Sheikh Abdulhadie Gumander of Joint Working Group for Religious Leaders of Peace (JWGRLP) delivering his message during the forum

Religious Groups Hold Evangelical Forum on BOL

Zamboanga City -  The religious groups from Muslim and Christian Faith held forum on Bangsamoro Organic Law attended by 40 peace advocates and members of Evangelical Church based in this city. 

The said event was organized by the Philippine Council of Evangelical Church (PCEC), Open Doors, Palhimpunan Almasihin Fellowship and Mission (PAFM) and Joint Working Group for Religious Leaders of Peace (JWGRLP). 

Ms. Joy Dimerin, a leading woman event-organizer emphasized that the objective of the program is to give proper awareness and education about BOL to their church members throughout the country to support an endeavor for lasting peace, genuine development and harmonizing good relationships between Muslim and Christian settlers community.

“By supporting the BOL, a product of peace, it will gradually answer the long decades of disunity, misunderstanding, prejudices and biases among and between religious groups,” Dr. Aldrin Penamora, Executive Director for Evangelical Council of the Philippines on Peace and Reconciliation said.

“Reconciling relationship is an obligation. Therefore, it is a duty and responsibility to take the lead in establishing harmonious life between brothers and sisters in Islam,” he added. 

The activity is a pilot program that organizers intend to continue until the plebiscite comes with a commitment to encourage all their constituents to register and vote YES for BOL especially in core areas where the need for inclusion is needed. 

Former BTC Commissioner, Samira Ali Gutoc shared her understanding about the spirit of enacted BOL. As she said, the law intends to change the system from a poor system to most appropriate, transparent, good governance and more active in delivering social services for the people, a clear vision of leadership not just for the Muslim communities but to the entire Mindanao areas that although it has an identified jurisdiction and territories but it can extend good services to its adjacent areas that is appropriated in the Special Development Fund aside from the Block Grant granted to the Bangsamoro people. 

The uniqueness of having Parliamentary form of government that has been granted under the law will serve an open participatory governance that gives opportunity to all stakeholders specifically (the women, youth, Indigenous people's seats) to bring their concerns for discussion, make policy, and for the leaders of parliament to take action so that any animosity within its people will be addressed. In this kind of participatory government, a gradual transformation from a poor governance will be resolved.  

The group is now ready to take the path in leading church-based campaign to encourage their members to give support for the plebiscite. As a matter of fact, there is a strong commitment expressed by the participants to mobilize their own respective hometown at all means to initiate campaigns. 

Some of them also expressed the hardship in understanding BOL without given prior lectures on the provisions of the law, so the need for a formal orientation on the enacted law is necessary. After all, they can go further more for advocacy in various communities. 

Rev. Al Santorias, UCCP Executive Director, shared his good stories with his wife about their experiences in working together in Muslim communities. According to them, it is all about to heal the prejudices and biases against individual and faith-based groups because all God's creations are for peace. A meaningful peace can only be attained through justice and healing. It is a right time and no more other time to heal the wounds. Therefore, the Christian people as a steward of God should learn to heal their wounds and accept the signed organic law to entrench a more peaceful living. 

A Muslim religious leader, Sheikh Abdulhadie Gumander III stressed the need to support the BOL as a duty of every mankind who were created by God. The religion becomes our identity to propagate peace and harmony in this universe as our duty to establish good relationships. Man- made laws has never been perfect. Only the laws of Creator are perfect then. However, the need to accept the signed law as a product of long decades of prejudices and biases brought by oppressors. Therefore, we need to accept this law in order to end the historical injustices committed against us as brothers & sisters created by only one Creator.