BUC proposes role in monitoring Mindanao peace drive

March 16, 2010 10:34 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, March 16 -— Mindanao-based Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, head convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), on Tuesday proposed that religious groups be given roles in monitoring the peace process in Mindanao.

At the same time, the Davao-based former President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), expressed that government on its own cannot solve all the conflicts of society and should partner with civil society in efforts to better the lives of the people.

Capalla was speaking to reporters during a recess in civil society discussions that formed part of the ongoing Special Non-Aligned Movement for Ministerial Meeting (SNAMMM) on interfaith initiatives and cooperation.

He was joined at the press conference by Haj. Ikebal M. Patel, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, who was invited to present foreign perspective into the discussions.

Two other BUC executive members, Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao) Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Protestant Bishop Efraim Tenedero, and Assistant Secretary Isabel Tobias, secretary-general of Malacanang’s Presidential Council on Values Formation also joined the media briefing.

But Capalla did not specify whether he meant the International Monitoring Team (IMT) under the Comprehensive Peace Process in Mindanao and comprises Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Japan, or the separate International Contact Group (ICG), which also has a civil society component. The IMT’s primary role is to monitor ceasefires in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.

But he made it clear that ceasefires or infrastructures “are not necessarily the equivalent of peace.” Admitting that he comes from the perspective of a cleric, he added that governments must also look after the emotional needs or trauma of victims of conflicts.

Tobias interjected and said that “soul care” is primarily the domain of the religious but that government could help with funding and other material assistance.

Patel spoke of Australian policy where federal funds are added to state funds to build as many schools for grade level regardless of ethnicity or religious beliefs. He said that in Australia, citizens prefer general schools over ethnic – or religion-specific schools because education obtained from the former is basically more rounded.

Capalla said the BUC will present for consideration of the SNAMMM six key issues—which, if clarified– “would make interfaith dialogue an instrument for lasting peace.” These are dehumanization, impersonalism, communism. Socialism, social disorder, irreligion or faithlessness, and development aggression or anti-culturalism.

The Secretary-General of the New York-based World Conference of Religions for Peace, Dr. William Vendley, is among those who will give a statement in tomorrow’s session of the SNAMMM. (PNA) V3/GJB

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