Joji & Dann Pantoja

Joji & Dann Pantoja are peace building missionaries commissioned by Peace Mennonite Church and administered through Mennonite Church Canada. They are assigned to the Philippines to lead a team of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Specialists called PeaceBuilders Community Inc. They also co-founded Coffee for Peace Corp. to help indigenous farmers in the Philippines produce, process, and market their products in accordance with inclusive and sustainable development principles.

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Sep 13 2013

HOW WE LOOK AT THE AFP-MNLF ARMED CRISIS IN ZAMBOANGA CITY

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While civilians are fleeing for their lives, elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) engage Moro rebels in a Zamboanga City street, backed-up by light armor vehicles popularly known as Simba. 13 September 2013. CNA Photo.

These recent armed clashes between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Zamboanga is characterized by confusion, disinformation, utter disregard for human lives, and grave human rights violations.

According to our latest update, this senseless violence has left 53 killed and 70 wounded. There are now 25,000 evacuees. Hundreds of homes were burned. The local economy had been badly hurt, it exacerbated the already impoverished condition among the common people.

Differing Stories by Various Factions of the MNLF. Rev. Absalom Cerveza, an evangelical pastor who joined the MNLF and became its spokesperson, was quoted saying that they have chosen the path of war over a failed diplomatic approach to gain their independence. A few weeks before this incident, Mr. Nur Misuari, the founding chairman of MNLF, felt betrayed when the Philippine government withdrew from 1996 peace pact review. For him, the government’s withdrawal amounted to the abrogation of the 1996 Peace Accord between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF. So, he made a unilateral declaration of independence of the Bangsamoro Republik from the Republic of the Philippines. The Bangsamoro Republik, in the mind of this faction of MNLF, includes Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Palawan.

Another spokesperson, Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla, informed the public last Monday morning that, indeed, they have entered and took over several villages in the City of Zamboanga through military force.

Meanwhile, one of the official MNLF Facebook pages consistently claimed that those men who entered Zamboanga City in the morning of September 09 were fake MNLF elements. Mr. John R. Petalcorin, the page administrator and one claiming to be the MNLF Director of Advocacy reporting directly to Nur Misuari, issued a general order:

GENERAL ORDER FOR THE MNLF

Stay at home or somewhere safe, maintain a low profile, and avoid any trouble. But be ready to protect your life and your family if your household is harassed. The genuine MNLF is not involved in that chaos in Zamboanga and nearby towns. Don’t get swayed by the bandwagon of media. If your senior officers in the unit would ask you to prepare for a combat mission, please report the name to me 0921-7172040 so I can warn you if that person is in the list of the over 200 Fake MNLFs that we intercepted. Allahuakbar!

The following are the major Counterfeit MNLF operators in Zamboanga and Basilan area. Please do not obey any kind of instructions (especially combat recruitment instructions) from these persons.

George Sampang, Abdulsalim Laki Wahi, Bulleng Montong, Kiram Abdullah, Ocacc Mohammad, Hj. Sahipa Walsa, Manalbang Tahil, Tuan Samili, Usman Powa, Degte Ibrahim, Akramin Menembanl, Nurmina Mahamud, Afdar Salik, Hj. Abbas Tangkian, Min Alam, Hb. Andang Hashim, Lacson Sawadjaan, Abdullajid HB. Hussein, Hj. Abdua Jakaria, Hatimil Hassan, Jan Jakilan, Mitsuara Hassan, Ustadz Abdulmuhmin Mujamid, Likhab Salahuddin, Aramel Amirin, Datu Bungsu Mursalun, Ustadz Hassan Jaiiani.

The other official MNLF Facebook page, however, has a message that directly contradicts the message above. It gives a link to the official website of the MNLF with the following editorial on its front page:

CAUSES OF THE SUDDEN ERUPTION OF FILIPINO-MORO WAR IN ZAMBOANGA CITY

The Filipino-Moro war raging now in Zamboanga City between the colonial Philippine occupation soldiers and the Bangsamoro freedom fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) could not have occurred if the present Aquino government respected only the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements.

 

Clearly, it is noted that another factor that led to the Filipino-Moro war now raging in Zamboanga City is the unwarranted harassment and arrest of MNLF harmless members and supporters entering the city. The present AFP-MNLF war in Zamboanga City could have been averted without the tactical design of the colonial city government under Mayor Beng Climaco to block the peaceful rally of the MNLF members and mass supporters. Worst, the harmless MNLF members and supporters were harassed and some were arrested and jailed for committing no crime at all, except only to witness and to participate in a peaceful assembly.

 The alarming turn of events just dismayed the MNLF freedom fighters in Zamboanga peninsula, Basilan and Sulu. Thus, they decided to come to the aid and rescue of the persecuted MNLF civilian members, who have come to Zamboanga City from all over Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.

Demonstrating to the Philippine colonial government that the Bangsamoro people have the legitimate and historical right to proclaim their independence and national self-determination by any possible peaceful means, the MNLF freedom fighters entered the four areas of Rio Hondo, Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon and Sta. Barbara to press their claim to a peaceful rally and raising publicly the MNLF-Bangsamoro national flag.

 However, the colonial Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) occupation soldiers used, as usual, force and  firepower to drive them out of Zamboanga City. But the MNLF freedom fighters stood their ground engaging the Philippine military troops equipped  with tank reinforcements and helicopter gunships beginning on September 9, 2013. 

The military reported that the MNLF forces who went to Zambaonga to declare independence actually came from the neighboring islands of Sulu and Basilan; they were not MNLF elements from Zamboanga City. These armed men from Sulu and Basilan were reportedly under the command of Habier Malik.

On the first four days of this armed crisis, Nur Misuari was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, on Friday the 13th of September, he surfaced disclaiming Habier Malik and his actions in Zamboanga City. In other words, he’s saying that he’s not responsible for the chaos, deaths, and human rights violations that affected hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a thickly populated urban center.

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Elements of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Armed Defensive Formation, marching towards their Strategic Convergence Zones. Lamitan City, Province of Basilan, Mindanao Island. 09 July 2013. Photo by Richard Falcatan.

If this is true, then who’s giving orders to Habier Malik?

Mr. Mujiv Hataman, Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was interviewed by GMA News. He said that Malik, Fontanilla, Misuari, and Cerveza have differing statements. Hataman also mentioned that he listened to the stories of the spouses and families of MNLF men who travelled from Basilan and Sulu to Zamboanga. He learned that their respective spouses were instructed by their commanders “to join a peace parade” in Zamboanga City.

Inspite of Misuari’s denial of his involvement in this Zamboanga violence, President Benigno Aquino III, in a public interview, made it clear that he will not allow Misuari to get off the hook.

A Conspiracy of Anti-Peace Forces.  The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in a statement published in their official website, believes that “there is a conspiracy of all anti-peace and anti-MILF forces against the success of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation which is in the last stretch.”  This was published in the context of the recent series of bomb explosions in Mindanao that killed 17 and wounded 81 people.  “The administration of President Benigno Aquino III is not spared from this conspiracy. It is as much as the target of this hate and shaming campaign as the MILF,” the statement added.

The MILF also added Misuari’s call for independence as among these anti-peace forces.

In another statement, MILF’s spokesperson Von Al Haq, assured the public that the current armed conflict in Zamboanga will not affect the on-going Peace Talks between the GPH and the MILF.

Somehow, the conspiracy theory of the MILF must be considered. Is it really mere coincidence that this military stand off happens a day before the 40th GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur?

A Distraction Away from the Pork Barrel Issue.  It is also possible that this event may be used as a media distraction by powerful people who are involved in one of the major corruption expose involving senior legislators and possibly senior officials in the executive branch. This is popularly known as the pork barrel scandal. Several questions have to be considered in relation to this:

Our GloCal Perspective. We look at the current AFP-MNLF clash from a global-local (glocal) perspective. The global factor is the intervention of the United States in the internal affairs of smaller countries like the Philippines; this is a view which is articulated by David Stockman — a private equity investor who served as the Budget Director of the Reagan Administration in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, a small segment of our society — who would lose so much of their war-based wealth and power interests — is actively doing a smear campaign against President Benigno Aquino III and is actually working to destabilize the barely budding peace and order in Mindanao. These shadowy forces know how to use desperate personalities and organizations.  They can also manipulate armed groups desperately needing financial input.  We believe that all these tactical operations are done to advance a strategic political purpose—that is, to maintain the status quo wherein their corruption-based wealth and power would continue to thrive.

These same forces — some are occupying powerful positions within our government and some are apparently opposing our current administration — are behind the war-based economy that enslaves the people of Mindanao and the whole Philippines. They seem to have persuaded President Benigno Aquino III to welcome the increasing presence of the U.S. military in our country.

There’s so much money in this new agreement with the Americans. The $526B US Defense Budget for 2014 includes a promise that calms the psyche of the American tax payers. This budget —

COUNTERS TERRORISM. Protecting the United States from terrorism remains a national security priority. The United States and its allies have had many successes against terrorist groups, but the priority of fighting terrorism remains, even as the specific threats have changed. The Budget continues to prioritize this mission by funding investments that are consistent with the four principles of the National Strategy for Counterterrorism, including: combatting terrorism in ways that are consistent with core U.S. values; building the capacity of our partners to fight terrorism; developing systems and capabilities to defend American citizens and deny terrorists safe havens; and preventing terrorists from developing, acquiring, or using weapons of mass destruction.”

Fiscal Year 2014 Budget of the US Government: Department of Defense

(Office of Management and Budget, p. 71)

A small chunk of this budget would be given to the Philippine government — only if we can prove that there are indeed terrorists in our own backyard.

Then we hear of the Zamboanga armed crisis that is so confusing, so chaotic, so deceiving and so murderous! Even attempts by conflicting parties on the ground towards a peaceful surrender and freeing of hostages is suppressed and hindered by some powerful actors.

This is our own glocal assessment and analysis which is largely influenced by our field experience where we see foreigners operating along with local military personnel.

Because of this painful reality, we resonate with the cry of an ancient Hebrew prophet:

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
But you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.”  (Habakkuk 1:2-4)

Praying with the Body of Christ in the Philippines. And so, we shared our hearts and minds to the evangelical Christian leadership in the Philippines and submitted our humble perspectives. We prayed with them. We did biblical reflection with them. We studied the facts with them.

Then the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches published a pastoral letter to the nation. We resonate with their words:

PCEC STATEMENT ON THE CURRENT ZAMBOANGA CRISIS

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) is made up of more than 30,000 congregations nationwide who follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. We follow Jesus for whom loving one’s neighbor is an expression of loving God, and for which reason he rejected the use of violence and retaliation even against one’s enemies.

We are thus convinced that conflicts are best resolved through peaceful means. We believe that the use of violence in Zamboanga City would only claim and injure the lives of people—whether they be government soldiers, MNLF fighters, or civilians—who are equally valuable before the sight of God.

As we express our solidarity with the people of Zamboanga —

:: We call on all the constituencies affiliated with PCEC and all other Christian churches and mission agencies to pray for the peace of our land;

:: We call on His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III and Mr. Nur Misuari to order their respective troops for the immediate ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities;

:: We call on the evangelical churches, ministry organizations and relief agencies to work together with all humanitarian agencies for the protection of civilians and to provide emergency relief to people affected by this violence;

:: We call all parties to immediately engage in a peaceful dialogue to resolve these conflicts;

:: We call on other parties who have caused, or have contributed to this violence in order to protect their corrupt wealth-and-power interests, to repent before God and change your ways. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)

PCEC prays that sustainable peace, based on justice, would be reached between the Government of the Philippines and all the Moro fronts through a peaceful, inclusive, negotiated settlement.

PCEC continually supports the current Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, with prayers that the on-going negotiations in Malaysia between their respective panels would not be affected by the crisis in Zamboanga, and that this GPH-MILF talks would result in a successful comprehensive agreement.

PCEC is earnestly praying that the people of the Philippines would quickly learn to settle our conflicts through dialogue and negotiations in the context of a culture of peace.

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (II Thess. 3:16 NIV)

 

The Board of Trustees, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches

Please contact:

Bishop Efraim M. Tendero, PCEC National Director, info@pceconline.org. or telephone 9131655-57

 

 

Towards a Radical National Transformation. We also believe that in the long run, we have to deal with the factors causing the armed conflicts in our land. Among the major ones is corrupt oligarchy and their practice of patronage politics.

As a segment of the Body of Christ in this country, we have to start with our worldview and a sound biblical-theological framework for our corporate actions. We have been presenting to the evangelical churches a holistic understanding of the Gospel that addresses the need for spiritual transformation, psychosocial transformation, sociopolitical transformation, and economic-ecological transformation.

At the same time, we also recommend to the church leaders and theologians to continue advocating our priority advocacies in the area of Christian social theology and ethics. The evangelicals are now actively contributing to our national transformation by addressing the current Philippine challenges we’re facing as a society. As a start, we have focused our actions on the following:

Thank you, our global community and partners, for your love, prayers, and support.

May we all experience justice-based peace within us and around us.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/09/13/how-we-look-at-the-afp-mnlf-armed-crisis-in-zamboanga-city/

Mar 02 2013

WE’RE PRINCIPAL SPONSORS IN A BANGSAMORO WEDDING

Joji, Dann, & Byron are called by the clan to have a picture with Bai Rohannie Baraguir and Datu Mona Ali Datumanong

We were invited to the wedding of Bai Rohannie Baraguir (Nannie) and Datu Mona Ali Datumanong (Micoy) as Principal Witnesses. Rohannie is like our niece. She is the grand-daughter of my Maguindanao Ama, the Hon. Datu Kharis Matalam Baraguir.

The day before the wedding, we witnessed the Kulintang presentation–a time when Maguindanao music filled the house of the bride while the whole clan who arrived from different places enjoy each others’ fellowship with an atmosphere of a grand reunion. Then, we were served a wonderful Maguindanao dinner with the family. Finally, we were invited by Rohannie, her grand-father (Datu Kharis) and father (Datu Solomon) to see her new bedroom. The elegant bedroom set, made from finest materials, was a gift from the groom (Datu Micoy). Only the closest family and friends are allowed to enter in this private chamber.

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Dann is one of the Principal Witnesses in the covenant ceremony between the Baraguir and Datumanong clans.

On the morning of the wedding, the heads of both families did the first part of a series of ceremonies. It was a spiritual event inside a mosque where all the men from both clans make a covenant to become one big family. It’s also an expression of an inter-clan alliance.

We proceeded to the function hall where both men and women were starting to gather for the wedding banquet. It started with a welcome and greetings by the masters of ceremony in behalf of the bride and groom. Then an Islamic preacher gave an exhortation about the spirituality of marriage and family living in accordance with the will of Allah (SWT).

The grand entrance of the wedding party, especially when Datu Kharis Baraguir escorted Rohannie during the bridal march, marked this wedding as one in accordance with the traditional datu (chieftain) families of the Maguindanao tribe. In their own right, this was a royal wedding.

After the exchange of rings and the signing of the wedding contract under the Shariah Law and the laws of the land, the newly weds went around the wedding banquet hall to greet their friends and relatives.

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Rohannie and Joji took time to have this photo just before the banquet.

Lunch was then served.

In the early afternoon, both families went to the Baraguir family’s residence for another lunch. I was told that this is done in case some people from outside the city who were not able to come to the wedding banquet in the city can still catch up with the celebration.

Then finally, both families went to the Datumanong residence for snacks, more Kulintang music, and a welcome ceremony by Mikoy’s family where Rohannie was presented tokens of appreciation, blessings, and a formal declaration of being a part of the Datumanong family.

We are so blessed to be embraced, although we really do not deserve the favor, to be a part of this family who has earned the respect of the Maguindanao people and the Bangsamoro people as a whole.

We pray that Micoy and Nannie may receive all the blessings of Allah (SWT); may their marriage be showered with so much blessings of love, joy, peace, abundant life, and beautiful children.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/03/02/were-principal-sponsors-in-a-bangsamoro-wedding/

May 28 2012

WE WERE INVITED BY THE EUROPEAN MENNONITES TO SHARE THE PBCI STORY

The Mennonite European Regional Conference (MERC) invited us to share the story of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) during the evening plenary session of their 2012 General Assembly in Sumiswald, Switzerland last May 18, 2012. Around 800 people gathered together representing the various Anabaptist churches and agencies throughout Europe.

A few days earlier, we attended the Peace Commission of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) and participated in the discussions during their meetings between May 14 and 17, 2012 in St. Chrischona Retreat Centre in Basel, Switzerland. We were asked to share our Mindanao peacebuilding ministry as the Commission talked about various cases of conflict transformation processes among some MWC constituencies.

We initiated the gathering of key Mennonite mission agency leaders for a short after-dinner meeting while in Basel. The two main objectives of the meeting were: (a) to get to know each other better as fellow mission leaders; and, (b) to initiate a working relationship among various mission agency leaders vis-à-vis the planting of PeaceChurch Philippines in Global City, Metro Manila, Philippines, within the structure of the Integrated Mennonite Churches in the Philippines. The leaders who were present with us were:

  • Bishop Edgardo Docuyanan, Moderator, Integrated Mennonite Churches in the Philippines.
  • Nelson Okanya, President, Eastern Mennonite Mission, USA.
  • Tim Froese, Director for International Ministries, Mennonite Church Canada Witness.
  • Richard Showalter, Former President, Eastern Mennonite Mission, USA.
  • Aaron Kauffman, Global Ministries Director, Virginia Mennonite Missions, USA.

All of us agreed –

  • To pray for Darnell & Christina Barkman and their two sons as they lead in the planting of PeaceChurch Philippines in Manila;
  • To open the line of communication between all mission agencies we represent towards a better understanding and mutual exploration of networking relationships;
  • To listen carefully to the voice of the Integrated Mennonite Churches in the Philippines as they seek to develop an effective and efficient structure to oversee a sustainable national church planting ministry.

After the meetings in Switzerland, we travelled to Leeuwarden, Friesland, in the northern parts of The Netherlands  to meet with the Mennonite leaders there. They also gave us a historical orientation and tour of the birthplace and points of interest regarding the life and ministry of Menno Simons.

On our way back from The Netherlands to Switzerland, we shared the Peace and Reconciliation ministries we’re doing in the Philippines to the Mennonite congregations in the cities of Strasbourg and Altkirch in France.

Finally, we were invited for a lunch fellowship among the Mennonite leaders in Bern, Switzerland.

We’re happy for the spiritual connections and possible networking relationships that resulted in this European visit:

1. The vision of planting PeaceChurch Philippines is welcomed by the leaders of the Integrated Mennonite Churches of the Philippines, the Mennonite Church Canada Witness, the Eastern Mennonite Mission, the Virginia Mennonite Mission, and the PeaceBuilders Community.

2. Roelof Akse, the Lead Pastor of Leeuwarden Anabaptist Community, expressed his desire to have a working relationship with PeaceBuilders Community and the Integrated Mennonite Churches in the Philippines. We are currently exploring the idea of transferring some of the basic dairy farming principles and technologies from Friesland and how they can be applied to the geographical and demographic contexts of the Philippines.

3. Max Wiedmer, Director of Swiss Mennonite Mission (SMM), expressed his desire to explore working with PBCI.  He requested a copy of our Peace and Reconciliation Resource Manual for a possible internship program between IMC-PBCI and SMM. He was also the one who coordinated our speaking engagements in France.  Max’s vision to connect with the Mennonites in the Philippines is consistent with what we’ve heard from some European Mennonite leaders to whom we have listened:

  • Markus Rediger, Executive Director of MERC
  • Pascal Keller, Pastor of Strasbourg Mennonite Community
  • Daniel Goldschmidt, Pastor of Altkirch Mennonite Community
  • Henk Stenvers, Director, Association of Anabaptist Communities in Netherlands
  • James Jakob Fehr, Director, German Mennonite Peace Committee
  • Paul Hege, Ecological Transformation Consultant, France.

4. Donald Peters, Executive Director of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, interviewed us about our Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) work among the evangelicals in the Philippines. He expressed interest in the vision of establishing a PAR Commission in each of the 80 provinces in the Philippines by 2015 (PAR 80 by 2015).

5. Nelson Kraybill, President-elect of the Mennonite World Conference expressed interest in the story of the evangelicals in the Philippines getting involved in the national peacebuilding between the government and the various non-state armed groups. He chose to sit with us during a lunch break to compare notes on national peace and reconciliation issues.

6. Wilhelm and Liesa Unger, CoPastors at Regensburg Mennonite Church, Germany, interviewed us so they can share our story to their congregation during the Pentecost holiday. Liesa is also the event coordinator for the Mennonite World Conference 2012 in Basel, Switzerland and for the MWC 2015 in Pennsylvania, USA. Wilhelm promised to keep in-touched with us.

7. Dr. David Shenk, Global Consultant, Eastern Mennonite Missions, renewed his mentorship with us through email. He has been a great theological-missiological guide to us.

Markus Rediger (Executive Director, MERC) planned our visit to Europe. It was done in coordination with Tim Froese (International Director, Mennonite Church Canada Witness), Gordon Janzen (Facilitator for Asia and the Middle East, Mennonite Church Canada Witness), and  Bennette Grace Tenecio (Chief Operating Officer, PeaceBuilders Community).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2012/05/28/we-were-invited-by-the-european-mennonites-to-share-the-pbci-story/

Oct 12 2011

WE’VE FACILITATED BASIC TRAINING OF PAR COMMISSION OFFICERS IN REGION 10

Bishop Efraim Tendero, National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and Bishop Genesis Udang of PCEC PAR Commission in Mindanao officially installed 18 key leaders from Region 10 who successfully completed the three-month Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Seminar Series. These monthly seminar sessions were held in three different cities:
::  August 04-05, 2011 in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental
::  September 01-02, 2011 in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental
::  October 10-12, 2011 in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon

The graduation ceremony and commissioning service were held last Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 1900H in Malaybalay City.

The new officers of PCEC’s Region PAR Commission are as follows:

Regional Director:  Rev. Alex Eduave
Secretary:  Pastora Mayrle Jean Roa
Treasurer:  Pastor Cezar Egano
Transporter:  Pastor Pancho Faburada
Provincial & City Directors:

  • Cagayan de Oro City – Pastor Fernando Supangan
  • Gingoog City – Pastor Enrique Guevarra
  • Ozamiz City – Pastor Birt Isaias Roa
  • Tangub City – Pastor Brigido Pasok, Jr.
  • Iligan City – Pastor Bayani Areola
  • Malaybalay & Valencia Cities – Pastor Rodney Sarilla
  • Oroquieta City – Pastor Lucresio Alaban
  • Bukidnon Province – Pastor Provo Antipasado
  • Misamis Oriental – Pastor Jerome Degamon

Speakers’ Bureau:

  • Pastor Nasali Silva – Head
  • Pastor Christopher Florita
  • Pastor Fernando Supangan
  • Pastor Enrique Guevarra
  • Pastor Carlos Gallur

PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) facilitated the training of these PAR Leaders, who would, in turn, train and organize PAR Communities in their respective provinces, cities, and municipalities.

The PBCI PAR Training Consultants were:

  • Rev. L. Daniel Pantoja, PeaceTheology & PeaceBuilding
  • Joji Felicitas Pantoja, Fair Trade and Economic Sustainability
  • Bennette Grace Tenecio, Trauma Healing
  • Kriz Cruzado, Conflict Transformation
  • Mei Solocasa, CrossCultural Communication

This PAR training and regional organization is a part of a wider vision:  By December 31st, 2015, each of our 80 provinces will have a circle of God-fearing, justice-and-peace-oriented leaders called PAR Communities, who will organize, nurture, and oversee various PAR Teams, who will, in turn, implement just-peace oriented PAR Programs in their local contexts. This five-year plan governs all the current activities of PeaceBuilders Community as indicated in our Field Operations Map.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/10/12/pcec-bishop-installs-region-10-par-commission-officers/

Sep 20 2011

WE SIGNED A MEMO OF UNDERSTANDING WITH UNIFRUTTI GROUP AND HINELEBAN FOUNDATION

In joyful response to God’s initiative and provision, PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI) and Coffee For Peace (CFP) have agreed to work together in a joint ministry with the Unifrutti Group of Companies (UGC), along with their foundations — Unifrutti Foundation Inc. and Hineleban Foundation Inc. (HFI)– to advance Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) initiatives in the Province of Bukidnon. This was documented through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the leaders of both groups last 20 September 2011 at the PeaceBuilders Community office in Davao City, Philippines.

Unifrutti is one of the Philippine’s biggest producers and exporters of Cavendish bananas and pineapples and operates in Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur and Davao del Sur.  Unifrutti is the mother company of Mount Kitanglad Agricultural Development Corp., Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Venture Corp., Wao Development Corp. and Prinetines Meadows Development Inc.

The dreams of PBCI-CFP resonates with the vision and mission of UGC and HFI.

UGC-HFI Vision states:

We are stewards of God, involved in efficiently producing quality fresh fruits & vegetables.  We share the fruits of our lands with our communities.  We provide a better quality of life. We contribute to the peace and development of our brother Muslims, Cultural Communities & Christians in Mindanao.

The mission statement of UGC-HFI excites us:

We are a God-centered organization, united as One Family.  We uphold God’s values of Love, Truthfulness, Trustworthiness, Discipline & Perseverance.  We want to be the preferred supplier of best quality fruits & vegetables farm produce to the markets that we serve, adding value to our customers at a reasonable cost.  We are committed to improve the quality of life of our brother Muslims, Cultural Communities, and Christians by pursuing agricultural activities in our lowland & highland farms.  We will expand our investment presence in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to support our country’s aspiration for lasting peace through economic development.  We will safeguard the interest of our shareholders by providing fair returns for their investments.  We will preserve and restore the environment by implementing reforestation and other enhancement measures to maintain the ideal micro-climates conducive for sustainable agricultural production.  We preserve and restore the environment.

Both PBCI-CFP and UGC-HFI believe that God is the One opening this door for our groups to do PAR ministry together. John Perrine, Chairman and CEO of Unifrutti Group of Companies, expressed this in his own words: “I believe that the goals of our respective groups are very much aligned and that our strengths are truly complimentary.”

PBCI-CFP and UGC-HFI will work together in sending a total of 12 teams of PAR community organizers to three verified armed-conflict zones between October 2011 and October 2012.  Each team will be made up of three full-time personnel —  the lead PAR community organizer, an administrative assistant, and a local guide. This partnership is planning to send three teams per quarter between October 2011 and October 2012.  Dann and John Perrine, along with their respective staff, will coordinate in this aspect of the partnership.

PBCI-CFP and UGC-HFI will also work together in developing Coffee Farming Technology in these zones in accordance with Fair Trade Principles. Joji and Renee Araneta-Perrine will coordinate in this aspect of the partnership, with the assistance of their respective staff. Renee is the Marketing Director of Hineleban Foundation. She is John’s wife.

This joint ministry of peace and reconciliation (PAR) is based on a faith-perspective that God is already at work among the people of our land even before we plan and act.

We understand peace as enjoying harmony in our basic human relationships through the transforming power of God: harmony with the Creator—spiritual transformation; harmony with our being—psycho-social transformation; harmony with others—socio-political transformation; and, harmony with the creation—economic-ecological transformation.

We understand reconciliation as building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal is to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place to address, to integrate, and to embrace the painful past and the necessary shared future as a means of dealing with the present.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/09/20/we-signed-a-memo-of-understanding-with-unifrutti-group-and-hineleban-foundation/

Sep 12 2011

WE COMMISSIONED PBCI PAR CONSULTANTS TO BUKIDNON PROVINCE

PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. commissioned four of our staff members to be the training consultants of the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Community Organizing and Fair Trade Coffee Farming in Bukidnon Province.

Joji and I, along with my mentor, Dr. Miriam Adeney (Professor of World Christian Studies, Seattle Pacific University), led in prayers and biblical reflections during the commissioning process.

Bennette Grace Tenecio (PBCI Director of Support Operations) and Mei Solocasa (PBCI Mindanao PeaceBuilding Coordinator) accompanied us and provided logistical support to the training consultants.

Renee Araneta Perrine (Director of Marketing, Hineleban Foundation, Inc.) welcomed and received the PBCI training consultants.

The members of the training consultants are:

  • Kriz Cruzado — Director of Field Operations
  • Regina Mondez — Development Communications Specialist
  • Keith & Jenna Grubaugh — Technical Support, Arabica Coffee Farming

Their mission is to establish 12 PAR Community Organizing Teams within the next 12 months in various strategic areas in Bukidnon. Each 3-member PAR Community Organizing Team will have the following personnel with their designations and job descriptions:

PROJECT TEAM LEADER

  • Oversee the whole activities of the project in the community
  • Conceptualize strategies for the project in the community
  • Immerse in the community at the same time
  • Implements the macro operations of the project in the community

ASSISTANT TO THE PROJECT TEAM LEADER

  • Assists the Project Team Leader
  • Immerse in the community
  • Does the Technical Work
  • Team up with local project coordinator
  • Attends the project team meeting

LOCAL PROJECT COORDINATOR

  • Serves as a local facilitator for the team
  • Serves as a guide within the community
  • Helps facilitate local trainings
  • Serves as a translator of the team
  • Attends the training and meeting of the project team

This is done in partnership with Hineleban Foundation Inc., Unifrutti Group of Companies, and Unifrutti Foundation, Inc.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/09/12/we-commissioned-pbci-par-consultants-to-bukidnon-province/

Aug 25 2011

WE REMAIN POSITIVE ABOUT GPH-MILF PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

While Dann Pantoja (PBCI President) looks at his facilitator's notes, Rev. Norman Naromal (Senior Pastor, Davao Bible Community Church) asks the MILF Peace Panel members -- Michael Mastura, Mohagher Iqbal, and Aboud Sayed Lingga -- about the nature and intention of the proposed Bangsamoro Substate during the PCEC-MILF Inter-Faith Dialogue, March 09, 2011, KFI Bldg., Cotabato City. It was described by the MILF panelists as "heart-to-heart conversation." The event was organized by the Mindanao People's Caucus (MPC) and PBCI.

The PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI)—a fellowship of Conflict Transformation specialists who are dreaming and working for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our land—is confident that the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will continue towards the path of peace and reconciliation between the Filipinos and the Bangsamoros.

We expressed our enthusiasm regarding the August 4, 2011 meeting of President Benigno Aquino III and Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Japan as a positive move towards peace and reconciliation.

We were praying as the 22nd Exploratory Talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur started last August 22nd.  We appreciate both peace panels for their hard work.

  • We thank God for the GPH Peace Panel delegation: Chief Negotiator Marvic Leonen; panel members Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Mr. Senen Bacani, Mr. Ramon Piang; panel consultant Prof. Hamid Barra; and panel secretariat Ms. Iona Jalijali, lawyers Juhaira Wahab and Armi Bayot, both legal counsels.
  • We thank God for the MILF Peace Panel delegation: Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal; panel members Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Maulana Alonto, Abhoud Lingga, Abdulla Camlian and alternate member Antonio Kinoc, and MILF panel secretariat Jun Mantawil, with Mike Pasigan and Mohajirin Ali.

We respect the MILF peace formula that calls for “the creation of a substate for the Moros.” We are aware that “this entity is not an independent state” and that “the powers over national defense, foreign relations, coinage and currency, and postal services are still the sole jurisdiction of the central government.”   We have nothing to fear in the MILF proposal, because “the substate, as the name connotes, is still part of the Philippines.”  We are aware that the proposed substate will have “no army, except police and internal security forces, tasked to do policing within the substate.”

We respect GPH Panel Chair Marvic Leonen’s “3 for 1″ Proposal—that is, one solution with three components, such as “massive economic development,” “political settlement with the MILF,” and “cultural-historical acknowledgment.”   We are aware that this approach was a result of the GPH Peace Panel’s extensive consultations with various sectors in Mindanao.

We respect MILF Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal’s commitment “to reframe the consensus points with the end in view of moving towards the comprehensive compact to bring about a negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Mindanao.”  We are aware that, for the Bangsamoros who have been suffering from decades of war and historical injustice, “the peace negotiation cannot be delayed anymore.”

We listened carefully when Mohagher Iqbal announced last August 24 that the MILF Peace Panel did not accept the GPH’s proposal because of the following reasons:

  • The GPH peace panel draft is way below the MILF expectation. The MILF peace panel thought that the Aquino administration had a better formula than the previous administrations in addressing the Moro Question and armed conflict in Mindanao;
  • The draft has no meeting point with the MILF peace panel draft; hence, will not fast track the negotiation as agreed by President Aquino and Chairman Murad in Japan last August 4;
  • The GPH draft is not solving the Moro Question and the armed conflict in Mindanao but it is a formula to prolong it;
  • The unbridled domination of the Philippine government over the Moros through the unitary setup of government is not only maintained but reenergized or reentrenched; and,
  • Practically, the GPH draft derogated all signed agreements or documents including the historic Tripoli Agreement of Peace of 2001.

We listened carefully when Marvic Leonen announced early today, August 25,  that “the government is standing firm on its proposal” and that “the government rejects the MILF’s rejection of our proposal.”  He cites the following reasons:

  • The government proposal is the most principled, realistic and practical approach to resolving the decades-old armed conflict in the south;
  • The “3 for 1” proposal or three components for one solution to the Bangsamoro problem was crafted within the bounds of the Philippine Constitution, which allows a lot of flexibility;
  • The 20-page proposal was the result of the series of consultations the peace panel conducted with various stakeholders in Mindanao;
  • It seeks not only to provide a just and lasting peace to the troubled south but more so to improve and uplift the lives of the people who have long suffered from the brutality of decades-long armed conflict;
  • The GPH proposal reflects the sincere desire of the President for permanent peace in Mindanao obtained in a fair, just and transparent manner.

On one hand, the MILF is emphasizing a prompt action on the part of the GPH to arrive at thefinish line of this journey—which is mostly a journey of suffering on the part of the Bangsamoros because of historical injustice. On the other hand, the GPH is emphasizing awell-processed action towards the same finish line, when the final agreement will be embraced by all segments and sectors of the whole Philippine society, and therefore be effectively and efficiently sustained permanently. The finish line, we believe, is a comprehensive agreement where the Bangsamoros, the Indigenous People, and the Migrants can claim themselves to be enjoying their respective rights to self-determination in this beautiful land of Mindanao.

We have met and have interacted personally with both GPH and MILF peace negotiators in various occasions.  We are confident that both parties have the characters and skills of a genuine and sincere set of peace-builders.

Along with all the Filipinos and the Bangsamoros, we await a reciprocal show of sincerity, openness and commitment from both the GPH and the MILF to move the peace process forward.

For more information, contact: Rev. L. Daniel Pantoja, PBCI President & CEO, telephone +63 908 888 8017 or email: daniel@peacebuilderscommunity.org.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/08/25/pbci-remains-positive-about-gph-milf-peace-negotiations/

Aug 05 2011

PHILIPPINE EVANGELICALS LAUD AQUINO-MURAD MEETING

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ibrahim and Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III meet informally in Tokyo, Japan Thursday evening August 04, 2011. (Photo by: Jay Morales/ Malacanang Photo Bureau).

It’€™s the first time that a Philippine president meets with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair since the negotiations commenced 14 years ago. Both discussed possible approaches in moving the peace process forward.

Accompanying the President in the informal meeting were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Budget and Management Sec. Florencio Abad, Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Government of the Philippines (GPH) Peace Panel Chair Marvic Leonen.

Murad, on the other hand, was joined by some members of the MILF Central Committee, the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel and some base commanders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

 

OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE COUNCIL OF EVANGELICAL CHURCHES

 

THE AQUINO-MURAD MEETING IN JAPAN: A POSITIVE MOVE TOWARDS PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

 

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) — the largest network of Christian denominations, para-church organizations and local churches nationwide — views the meeting of President Benigno Aquino III and Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim with respect and regards it as a positive move towards peace and reconciliation.

 

The informal talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was held last Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at around 8:45 PM at the Ana Crowne Hotel in Narita, a suburb of Tokyo City, Japan.

 

In this historic meeting, President Aquino has demonstrated his sincerity and commitment to lead this country forward in order to achieve a negotiated political settlement with the Moro people.  We commend his hands-on approach to the Peace Process.  Such an approach is a needed leadership quality as we, the whole Filipino people, seek an equitable and sustainable peace in southern Philippines.

 

We call on the members of the PCEC, along with the larger Body of Jesus Christ in this land, to pray for wisdom for both President Aquino and Chairman Murad as they have agreed to “fast track” the GPH-MILF peace negotiation.  Pray that both the GPH and the MILF leadership would carefully consult their respective constituencies as they seek the prompt completion of a negotiated political resolution to the GPH-MILF conflict.

 

We call on all peace-loving Christians and Muslims to be prayerfully vigilant against those “spoilers” of peace, many of whom are protecting their interests and are the financial and political beneficiaries of the armed conflicts in Mindanao.  Pray that their hearts and minds would be transformed and that their interests would be re-aligned towards genuine justice and peace.

 

We call on all the people in the Philippines to pray for genuine justice and peace in our beloved land, not just for some, but also for all. Pray that we, Filipinos would realize and see that armed conflicts are merely symptoms of the root problems: land distribution, historical injustice, corruption, abuse of power, apathy and other social sins—from which we all must turn away.

 

We call on both the GPH and MILF peace panels to consider our voice, through the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission, as we offer our active participation in giving our input to the on-going negotiation between the GPH and the MILF.

 

Let us follow the call of Jesus who said: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

 

May we all experience genuine shalom-salam within us and around us!

 

July 10,2011

For more information, contact: Bishop Efraim M. Tendero, PCEC National Director, telephone 9131655-57 or email: info@pceconline.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/08/05/philippine-evangelicals-laud-aquino-murad-meeting/

Jun 27 2011

NORTHERN MINDANAO LEADERS INITIATE PAR MINISTRY

Twenty-seven Christian leaders — bishops, pastors, church workers, local government executives, academics — participated in the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Ministry Orientation in Cagayan de Oro City. They represented various evangelical communities in Region 10.

This event is the beginning of a series of PAR Seminars to be held throughout this region in the next few months: PAR Seminar 1, Oroquieta City, August 4-5; PAR Seminar 2, Cagayan de Oro City, September 1-3; PAR Seminar 3, Malaybalay City, October 10-12.

Bishop Genesis “Bong” Udang convened these leaders with the support of the PAR Commission of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC). The Vice Mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, Hon. Caesar “Ian” Acenas, graced the event and participated through the second half of the seminar. He publicly announced his desire to attend the whole PAR Seminar Series 1-3. The newly-appointed Provincial Administrator of Bukidnon, Mr. I. Provo Antipasado, was one of the participants representing his province. He invited PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI) to serve as consultant in their province’s leadership development and vision-casting program. The rest of the participants are the chairpersons of their respective provincial, city, and municipal ministerial fellowships.

PBCI — represented by Freddie Abelitado, Matt Tiessen, Mei Solocasa, Kriz Cruzado,  Joji Pantoja, and Dann Pantoja — served as PAR Seminar facilitating team.

We welcome the Christian leaders of Region 10 to the growing Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Movement in our land!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/06/27/northern-mindanao-leaders-initiate-par-ministry/

Jun 18 2011

METRO-COTABATO MINISTERIAL FELLOWSHIP ORGANIZES PAR COMMUNITY

The MetroCotabato Ministerial Fellowship (MCMF) formally organized the MetroCotabato PAR Community from among their key leaders.

This journey started last November 08, 2010 when key staff of the PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI) was introduced by Ms. Joy Raguine to the MCMF leaders. PBCI presented the concept of peace and reconciliation (PAR) ministry. Since then, a partnership journey grew between MCMF and PBCI into a mutual commitment to advance PAR ministry in Cotabato City and the whole Maguindanao Province.

Last March 09, 2011, 32 MCMF pastors and key Christian leaders participated in an inter-faith dialogue between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) which was held at the Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc. in Cotabato City.

After finishing PAR Seminars 1-3, the MCMF established a PAR Community among their ranks, with an intention of forming 4 PAR Teams of 15 members each, around Cotabato City and Maguindanao Province.

God willing, these Christian leaders in MetroCotabato will be one of the 80 PAR Communities in the Philippines who would advance as a Peace and Reconciliation Movement, with an integrated framework for peace-building, who are organized in partnership with various parts of the People of God, who are mobilized to do ministries of justice and peace in the name of Jesus, and who will lovingly serve all the peoples of our land unconditionally regardless of religion, ethnicity, or political ideology, to the end that our land will experience holistic transformation!

We welcome the MetroCotabato PAR Community to the growing number of PAR Communities in the Philippines!

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/06/18/metro-cotabato-ministerial-fellowship-organizes-their-par-community/