Muslim, Christian officials in Mindanao call for sobriety
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2015 - 1:55pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Muslim and Christian public officials joined ranks Wednesday and appealed for sobriety amid the tension spawned by Sunday’s deadly clash between policemen and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said they sympathize with the families of the more than 40 members of the police’s elite Special Action Force (SAF) who perished in the incident.

“We have to face these most trying times with calmness and patience,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the government’s law enforcement activities in North Cotabato must not be dampened by the bloody encounter between the SAF operatives and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“People in North Cotabato are also in search of justice for the recent bombings that left several of our people dead and many others injured. The incident in Mamasapano was an offshoot of the search for two wanted bombers,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the incident should not affect the zeal of North Cotabato’s Muslim, Christian and lumad community elders in forging ahead with local programs intended to foster co-existence and sustainable development in local culturally-pluralistic enclaves.

“Our peace-building efforts must not be affected by the Mamasapano incident,” Mendoza said.

Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, whose district covers 11 towns in Maguindanao and all of the 37 barangays in Cotabato City, said last Sunday’s hostilities in Mamasapano was so saddening.

“But the impact is still surmountable as long as all people in Maguindanao, regardless of religious and tribal identities, all government agencies and Moro groups will unite and continue to carry out diplomatic means of addressing local peace and security issues,” Sema said.

Sema said the incident must not stifle the peace overture with Muslim communities in Mindanao either.

“Let’s continue preserving the gains of the Mindanao peace process. In so doing we will never be downed by security issues. We will emerge stronger as a peace-loving people,” Sema added.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Wednesday convened the provincial peace and order council to discuss how its members can address the tension sparked by the Mamasapano SAF-MILF encounter.

Mangudadatu said hundreds of families were dislocated by the hostilities.

He said provincial relief workers are now attending to the needs of the evacuees along with the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Mangudadatu said he and ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman are coordinating each other’s effort meant to foster normalcy in the conflict-wracked Mamasapano municipality in the second district of Maguindanao.

BAI SANDRA SEMA COTABATO CITY EMMYLOU MENDOZA ESMAEL MANGUDADATU HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE AND RESPONSE TEAM OF THE AUTONOMOUS REGION MAGUINDANAO MAMASAPANO MENDOZA NORTH COTABATO SEMA
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