ARMM calls on various sectors to support gov't peace efforts
John Unson ( - December 3, 2015 - 6:18pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Sectoral leaders on Thursday wrapped up the week-long celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) with appeals for Muslim, Christian and Lumad cooperation in addressing the security and socio-economic issues confronting the region.

The yearly MWOP was pioneered by peace advocacy blocs in Mindanao in 1997, meant to inculcate on the public the importance of cooperation in fostering peace and economic development among the local “tri-people,” which groups the southern Lumad, Muslim and Christian sectors.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) led the culmination rite for their observance of the MWOP at the 32-hectare regional government compound in Cotabato City, an event attended by peace activists and representatives from the police and the military.

Hataman, presiding chair of the ARMM peace and order council, told The STAR his administration is keen on expanding its peace education programs in schools, which for him are the best conduits for propagation of tri-people co-existence and religious solidarity among ethnically and spiritually divergent groups.

Hataman said he is confident the close to 3,000 licensed, competent teachers he and his regional education secretary, John Magno, hired in recent months, can efficiently push the ARMM government’s peace education thrust forward.

He said he is also banking on the support of the newly-created Regional Darul Iftah, also known as either the ARMM’s House of Opinions, or the Regional Juris Consult, to his effort of addressing the region’s security problems through religious interventions.

Hataman just signed about two weeks ago the regional law, enacted by the ARMM’s 24-member Regional Assembly, creating the Darul Iftah, comprised of Muslim preachers, some of them graduates of religious schools in the Middle East and North Africa.

Hataman on Thursday again endorsed the ongoing peace overture between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

He urged the public to help sustain the dividends of the GPH-MILF peace efforts, among them the absence since 2009 of rebel-military hostilities in flashpoint areas covered by a ceasefire pact between both sides.

The fragile peace ushered in the continuing influx since 2012 of foreign investors now setting up viable agricultural ventures in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in Central Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The MWOP culmination rite in Maguindanao, a known bastion of the MILF, was jointly led by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, representatives from the local youth sector and officials of different non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in projects complementing the Mindanao peace process.

Among the NGOs that actively participated in the MWOP culmination activities in Maguindanao was the United States Agency for International Development-Enhancing Governance, Accountability and Engagement (USAID-ENGAGE) entity.

The USAID-ENGAGE helped organize the activity into a multi-sectoral event, which also involved hundreds of representatives from Maguindanao’s youth sector.

In a message, Mangudadatu told guests to the program, held at a public gymnasium in the provincial capital Buluan town, he would allow youth representation in the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, which he chairs.

Mangudadatu said enabling his youth constituents to have a voice in the council will maximize his administration’s effort of involving all sectors in the province in domestic peace-building initiatives.

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