Moro, Christian leaders meet

There is nothing more soothing and encouraging than to see and witness leaders from the Muslim and Christian groups meet in a very frank, fraternal, and tense-free atmosphere to discuss peace and peace process in Mindanao. We are referring to the Moro-Christian Leaders Peace Dialogue held at the Waterfront and Insular Hotel last September 26-27.

Whereas before religion was used to justify wars on each other, especially during the Crusades from 1096 and 1291 to recover the Holy Land from Muslim control, and also by Moros to defend their homeland from invaders from the 16th century and onward, this time, it was pursued to promote unity among the religious groups. Both confessional groups fully realized the need to have genuine peace in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao and to have the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) ratified during the plebiscite on January 21 next year. They also agreed to hold similar events involving grassroot communities, as well as indigenous peoples.

Those in attendance were not ordinary Church and Islamic leaders. Leading the Christians were His Eminence Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Most Reverend Romulo Valles, Bishop Noel Pantoja, Rev. Father Benjamin Ariel Torreto, Sr. Ma. Fe D. Gerodias, RVM, Most Reverend Edwin Dela Pena, and from the Muslim side, were MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MNLF Vice Chairman Hatimil Hassan, Chairman Muslimin Sema of the MNLF People’s Congress, and Vice Chairman (on Political Affairs) Romeo Sema, Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, BIAF Chief of Staff Sammy Al Mansoor, MILF (and Bangsamoro mufti) Abehuraira Udasan, and several others senior leaders including three ulama or learned in Islam).

Also, in attendance, in fact coordinating the event, were Edgardo Ramirez, ARMM Deputy Governor for Christians, and Sheikh Mahmod Ahmad of the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI). There were several similar dialogues in the past that served as the prelude to this meeting in Davao City.  

This meeting was sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and was represented by Chetan Kumar, UNDP Peace and Development Advisor.

Frankly, this get-together is very encouraging. For us, while we cannot forget the past, because there must be a closure through transitional justice and reconciliation, but the future is more important. We are in an era where problems must be settled in a civilized way rather through the use of brute force and duplicity.

Finally, since all problems are virtually political in nature but religions are often used to justify and fuel them. With the example set forth during the dialogue in Davao City, we are confident that any problem that comes our way can be handled with ease, understanding, and fair play.


A Manifesto of the Bangsamoro and Christian Leaders