Tag: milf

Apr 03 2016

WE HELPED BRIDGE TOP PCEC AND MILF LEADERS

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02 April 2016. Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao — The PeaceBuilders Community initiated the top leaders’ meeting between the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), led by Bishop Noel Alba Pantoja, and the Central Committee Office of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by Chairman Murad Ebrahim.

The two bodies discussed how leaders of Evangelical Christian and Muslim religious groups can work together for a justice-based peace and reconciliation initiatives in Mindanao and in the whole Philippines. Among those who were with Bishop Noel Pantoja were Dr. Aldrin Penamora, Bishop Gene Udang, Pastor Nemuel Castrodes, Prof. Annabel Manzanilla Manalo, Ms. Jay Atiolla, Rev. Alborne Llera, Ms. Beng Bicaldo, and Bishop Tomas Duan Mascariñas.

This was an initiative of the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

For Joji and I, this is like a culmination of 10 years of relationship-building on the ground. For this, we express our deep gratitude to Peace Mennonite Church, our sending congregation, the Mennonite Church Canada for being our administrative support as we focus on field tasks, and to all our congregational partners who have walked with us in prayers, in financial support, and pastoral guidance.

Most of all, we give all the glory to God for allowing us to serve in this way.

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PCEC Statement on the PCEC-MILF Leaders Dialogue
April 2, 2016, Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat

We, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) is very much appreciative of the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) headed by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal for the warm reception they accorded to our delegation during the entire duration of the PCEC-MILF leaders meeting held on April 2, 2016 at Camp Darapanan. We are thankful to God for this Christian-Muslim gathering that has led to a deeper understanding not only of each other’s positions on the Mindanao situation, but also as to what Scripture means that every person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

In conformity with PCEC’s previous statements that proclaim our biblically based endorsement of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, we reiterate our unwavering support toward the attainment of genuine peace that is founded on justice for the Bangsamoro people. In this regard, PCEC highly commends the MILF for its continuous dedication to realize through peaceful negotiations the Bangsamoro’s aspiration of self-determination, especially in view of the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) within the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The meeting between PCEC and MILF leaders had shown the importance of sincerity in dialogue. When participants are sincere and open minded, dialogue can lead to a deeper understanding and unity among Christians and the Bangsamoro people. Indeed, without unity it would be impossible to forge a lasting peace in Mindanao. The importance of unity is reflected in the biblical passage that says, “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor.13:11). In loving reverence and obedience to God, we shall appropriate the message of the Scripture by cultivating unity with Muslims and building peace in Mindanao as expressed in the following ways:

  • We call on the Government of the Philippines to persist in moving the peace talks with the MILF forward, and to explore new avenues in bringing about peace for the Bangsamoro and other people groups in Mindanao.
  • We call on all Christians to help diminish and bring down the walls of prejudice toward Muslims, and vice-versa, by being good neighbors to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as exemplified by the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37.
  • We shall conduct dialogues with other Muslim and non-Muslim stakeholders in the peace process in order to help in forging a truly inclusive peace agreement.
  • We shall form partnerships with the MILF and other Muslim and indigenous people groups for the purpose of providing necessary services such as disaster management training, psychosocial training and trauma healing that will benefit people on the ground especially those affected by the conflict in Mindanao.

In those aforementioned ways, we hope to demonstrate our solidarity with the just aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. In those aforementioned ways, we hope to faithfully follow God’s mandate to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), and as Scripture attests, “the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).

 

Bishop Noel A. Pantoja
National Director
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC)
Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS)

 

Photos by Lakan Sumulong

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/04/03/we-helped-bridge-top-pcec-and-milf-leaders/

Aug 20 2014

OUR SUPPORT FOR THE BANGSAMORO IS BASED ON A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE

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Representatives of civil society organizations deliver a statement of support to the respective chairpersons of the GPH and MILF Peace Panels. 04 August 2014, Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City. Photo Courtesy: OPAPP

The positive attitude of PeaceBuilders Community towards the Bangsamoro is energized by our peace theology.

While being supportive and actively praying for the success of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), our hope for the future goes beyond politically negotiated agreements and beyond legislative acts of governments.

As a community of Christian peace and reconciliation missionaries, our hope is ultimately based on a biblical view of the final justice and peace on earth when Christ, the Prince of Peace, will govern the world with genuine justice for all. In our worldview, the reality of this radical just-peace began with the first coming of Jesus Christ and will be completed in His Second Coming. In this sense, the context of our peacebuilding mission is in the intersection of the ‘already’ and of the ‘not yet.’

It is this biblical hope that motivates us to call on our fellow Christians to repent, seek forgiveness, and correct our unjust actions, as well as to forgive, and to reconcile with, the people who treated us unjustly—in the past.

It is also this spiritual hope that energizes us to strive for just-peace in the present—including our support and advocacy for the on-going peace process between the GPH and the MILF.

It is because of this hope that we say, “Peace is possible!” with much conviction and passion.

From this theological perspective—

  • We affirm our support for the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its four Annexes;
  • We continue to celebrate the signed 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, praying that it will be an effective instrument to attain just-peace in Mindanao and in the whole Philippines;
  • We express our appreciation for both the GPH and MILF Peace Panels who demonstrated their dedication and commitment to peace as the “only option” in this negotiation;
  • We applaud the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) for finally submitting a “mutually agreed draft” of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to the Office of the President;
  • We call on His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to certify the BBL before the Legislative Branch as an urgent bill;
  • We call on the Legislative Branch of our government to process this Bangsamoro Basic Law with careful, responsible examination and deliberation using the lenses of justice, righteousness, and peace for all;
  • We call on the People of the Philippines to look at this peace process through the reconciling eyes of their spiritual hearts and minds.

As we dream and work towards national peace and reconciliation, we resonate with the statement of the late Nelson Mandela: “In the end, reconciliation is a spiritual process, which requires more than just a legal framework. It has to happen in the hearts and minds of the people.”

And so, we pray for the completion of this peace process between the GPH and the MILF for the salaam-shalom of Mindanao and of the whole Philippines!

We deeply believe that peace is the will of God. May God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2014/08/20/our-support-for-the-bangsamoro-is-based-on-a-spiritual-perspective/

Jul 18 2013

PCEC SUPPORTS THE NEWLY-SIGNED GPH-MILF WEALTH SHARING DEAL

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L-R: Prof. Abhoud Sayyed Lingga, Bishop Efraim Tendero, and Chairman Mohagher Iqbal discuss how the Church could enhance its support to the GPH-MILF Peace Process, 14 May 2013, Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

I’m so happy to be a part of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) as it advance biblical peace and reconciliation as an integral part of their calling as a Body of Christ in the Philippines.

This is well-expressed in their latest statement supporting the current agreement made as part of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF):

PCEC STATEMENT ON THE GPH-MILF SIGNING OF THE WEALTH-SHARING ANNEX OF THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO

 

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) congratulates both peace-negotiating panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for their excellent work of cutting a breakthrough deal on the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

We thank God for the GPH Peace Panel talking with the MILF for their sincerity and firmness in guarding the interest of the Republic of the Philippines, and yet being flexible enough to recognize the Bangsamoro as a people with a distinct identity; as a people with their right to self-determination; and, as a people who have the right to manage their God-given resources.

We also thank God for the MILF Peace Panel for their firmness in upholding the principles of the Bangsamoro, yet affirming their respect for the national integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. Their patience, their flexibility, and their willingness to find a win-win path to come up with this breakthrough agreement on wealth sharing would eventually lead to a lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao and the whole Philippines.

We call on all who claim to follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14 ESV). We can apply this biblical exhortation through the following:

• Seek to understand this Agreement using the biblical lenses of justice (Amos 5:24), and peace (Matthew 5:9). While we pray and work together for the unity, integrity and transformation of the Republic of the Philippines, we also want to affirm the diversity of each people group (ethnei) as the understanding of nationhood in the Gospels (Matthew 28:19).

Get your facts and information directly from the sources. Read the document called Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing. Get your information from both the GPH and the MILF sources and perspectives. Refuse to be manipulated by black propaganda, calling for war and violence as the answer to the conflicts we’re facing as a nation, especially coming from those pockets of our society whose interests are to protect their war-based wealth and power.

• Be a channel of healthy dialogue and relationship-building discourse. As Christians, let us listen and seek to understand the point of view of our Muslim neighbors. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6). This real-life discussion on resource sharing is a kairos-moment for us to engage our Muslim neighbors in love. (Matthew 22:39)

Like climbing Mount Apo, this newly-signed Wealth-Sharing Agreement would help all citizens of the Philippines–Christians, Muslims, and Indigenous People–reach the summit of peace in accordance with the will of God. Let us be mindful that the nearer we are to the summit, the more difficult the terrain and the more tiring the climb can become. But with God’s grace and mercy, there is new energy, new hope, and new sight of the summit of peace getting nearer each day!

Hallelujah! Alhamdulillah! Let there be peace in Mindanao! Let there be peace in the Philippines! Let there be peace on earth!

”Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV)

PCEC Board of Directors July 18, 2013

For more information, please contact Bishop Efraim M. Tendero, tel. 9131658 or email info@pceconline.org.

May God continue to bless PCEC as it envisions to be a transforming presence of Jesus Christ in the Philippines.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/07/18/pcec-supports-the-newly-signed-gph-milf-wealth-sharing-deal/

May 14 2013

PCEC BISHOP LISTENS TO MILF ON HOW TO ENHANCE CHURCH’S SUPPORT TO PEACE TALKS

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L-R: Professor Abhoud Sayyed Lingga (MILF Peace Panel Member), Bishop Efraim Tendero (PCEC National Director), Chairman Mohagher Iqbal (MILF Peace Panel/Bangsamoro Transitional Commission): PCEC and MILF discuss how to enhance their partnership in advancing just and sustainable peace in our land during their May 14 meeting in Simuay.

Cotabato City, May 14, 2013 — PCEC Bishop Efraim Tendero met with MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal this afternoon in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Tendero asked Iqbal on how the Church can enhance its support to the GPH-MILF Peace Talks.

Before answering Tendero’s question, Iqbal gave an update on the current state of the negotiation between the GPH and the MILF. He highlighted the need to sign the Annexes in the newly-signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The said FAB Annexes include crucial details such as wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization.

“The Church can help in the peace process more effectively if its constituents would support the hastening of the completion of the Annexes in the newly-signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, ” Iqbal said. “The resolution to the GPH-MILF conflict is political in nature.”

Atty. Naguib G. Siwarimbo, a member of the MILF Peace Panel, also suggested that the Church will have “to journey with the government and with the negotiators and keep the pressure on both panels not to further delay the transition, as time is of the essence.”

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L-R: Rev. Daniel Pantoja (his back on the camera), Prof. Abhoud Sayyed Lingga, Bishop Efraim Tendero, Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Datu Kharis Baraguir. The PCEC delegation and the MILF team prayed together after the meeting.

The other members of the Bangsamoro Transitional Commission, which Iqbal also chairs, were also present, including the second highest ranking member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

The meeting started at 1:30 in the afternoon. Bishop Tendero expressed appreciation that the MILF leadership team prepared a sumptuous lunch and that the MILF hosts waited for the PCEC delegation before taking their lunch in order to have a solidarity meal.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Tendero made a commitment that, “PCEC will initiate inter-faith and multi-sectoral consultation to advocate for the support of the prompt signing of the Annexes to the FAB.”

The PCEC bishop was accompanied by a team from PeaceBuilders Community along with Wendy Kroeker, a conflict transformation consultant from the Mennonite Church Canada.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/05/14/pcec-bishop-listens-to-milf-on-how-to-enhance-churchs-support-to-peace-process/

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/

Mar 10 2011

EVANGELICALS ENGAGE ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARIES IN A PEACE DIALOGUE

 

09 MARCH 2011. COTABATO CITY—The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Peace Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held an inter-faith dialogue on the newly-resumed peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF.

Bishop Efraim Tendero (PCEC National Director), Bishop John Tayoto (Chairman, PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission), Bishop Genesis Udang (PCEC Mindanao), and Bishop Noel Pantoja (PCEC Board Member and General Director of the Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines) led the 78 evangelical participants—pastors, church leaders, and mission workers—representing various Christian groups in Mindanao.

The MILF Peace Panel were represented by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Attorney Michael Mastura, and Professor Abhoud Syed Lingga.  They were assisted by Mr. Mike Pasigan, Head of the Secretariat, MILF Peace Panel.

Bishop Tendero, in his opening remarks, referred to the biblical concept of the Image of God—the view that humanity, as originally designed by God’s creative will, though fallen into imperfection, is a reflection of God.  This biblical teaching, according to evangelical theology, is a healthy starting point for Christians to engage in these kinds of dialogue.  Because evangelical Christians believe that all human beings are created in the Image of God, we are all equal before the eyes of our Creator—the God of justice and peace.

The PCEC bishop also quoted a couple of Scripture passages emphasizing that peace and peacebuilding are crucial aspects of the Christian mandate because we follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace:

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, during his opening statement, quoted Prophet Muhammad in his letter to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai in the year 628 CE:

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far: We are with them.  Verily, I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah, I hold out against anything that displease them.  No compulsion is to be on them.  Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.  No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything to the Muslim’s houses… Their churches are to be respected…

“Insha Allah (God willing),” Iqbal publicly declared, “the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will also honor this commitment in the same way the Muslims before us had honored this covenant once the Bangsamoro state will be emplaced in some parts of Mindanao.”

Iqbal further explained their intention for having this dialogue with religious groups like the PCEC: “We, in the MILF Peace Panel, upon the expressed go-signal from our principal, get out of our way and conduct dialogues with church people, a very important sector in the society.  While there is separation of Church and State in the Philippines…the truth remains that the Church is a very powerful institution that holds the spiritual side of every Christian and, therefore, can influence their decisions, especially in relation to the cause of peace in Mindanao…  On our part, it is a matter of necessity that we must leave no stone unturned if only to make the cause of peace succeed.  This is also a sign of goodwill that we also reach out to groups other than those within the sphere of our responsibility…  There is also need for other people or groups like you to understand the MILF proposal, whether what we want for ourselves signals the demise of other groups, or whether our proposal is framed on extremism that defies logic and moderation.  Or we want to live and let others live in peace, love, and harmony.  Please examine our proposal very closely.”

Attorney Michael Mastura, explained the MILF draft on the comprehensive compact submitted to the GPH on January 27, 2010.  He summarized the highly technical document in a very passionate way: “We are not getting out of the country, but the unitary form of arrangement is a thing of the past for the Moros… There is really a need for a separate Bangsamoro state without severing ties with the Philippines.”

Professor Abhoud Syed Lingga, who is also Executive Director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), shared the concept of “a united country in the form of an asymmetrical state-substate relationship.”  He expressed his anxiety that GPH might not even consider this new political way of relating between two peoples.

During the question and answer period, majority of PCEC participants shared their concern about religious freedom, specifically the liberty of Christian minority to express their faith, under MILF governance in those parts of Mindanao where majority of the population are Muslims.  Bishop Genesis Udang of Cagayan de Oro City best represented this concern: “Would there be genuine religious freedom in a Bangsamoro substate?”

“Yes, there will be religious freedom,” Attorney Mastura answered.

Rev. Norman Naromal, Senior Pastor of Davao Bible Community Church, represented the second most asked question: “Would the Bangsamoro substate eventually lead to Bangsamoro independence?”

Attorney Mastura responded with another question: “What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing’s wrong with that,” replied Pastor Naromal, “we just want to see transparency where this peace negotiation between the GPH and the MILF is eventually going.”

After many more theological, historical, political, and economic discussions, the dialogue ended at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

The Mindanao People’s Caucus, led by its Secretary General, Attorney Mary Ann Arnado, organized this event.  Rev. Luis Daniel Pantoja, President and CEO of PeaceBuilders Community, facilitated the actual dialogue.

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:: MILF perspective of the story

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/03/10/pcec-engages-milf-in-a-peace-dialogue/