Tag: peace process

Oct 27 2011

MENNONITE CHURCH CANADA EXECUTIVE VISITS BANGSAMORO COMMUNITY

Tim Froese (Executivel Secretary, Christian Witness, Mennonite Church Canada) visited the Philippines during the time when some politicians and a few media personalities from Manila were shouting for an all-out-war against the Bangsamoro, the Muslims in Mindanao.

The socio-political atmosphere was so tense. In Tuesday, October 18, 2011 an armed skirmish between some elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and elements of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) happened in Sitio Bakisung, Barangay Cambug, Municipality of Al Barka in Basilan Province. In a gun-fight that went from 5:30am up to 4:00pm, about 31 government forces, and 6 of the Bangsamoro mujahideens, lost their lives.

In October 24, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) released a statement expressing that an all-out-war is not the answer.

Tim’s visit was timely. PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) was planning to visit our Bangsamoro friends and peacebuilding partners. We wanted to assure them that, during these times when many of the Filipinos in the power center of the Philippines were shouting for war, we, their Christian peacebuilding partners, are committed to help them build bridges of understanding. As executive secretary of Mennonite Church Canada Christian Witness, Tim saw, touched, listened, and prayed with our Muslim peacebuilding partners who belong to the Bangsamoro people.

PBCI, along with our Bangsamoro partners, requested Tim to tell Canada and the world that in Mindanao, there are voices of peace in the midst of those who clamour for war. There are many, many Muslims and Christians in Mindanao who are united to advance just-peace in this beautiful land of Mindanao!

Thank you, Tim Froese and Mennonite Church Canada, for your visit! Please help us tell our story to the whole world!

27 October 2011
Bagoinged, Maguindanao
Philippines

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/10/27/mennonite-church-canada-executive-visits-bangsamoro-community/

Nov 10 2010

COTABATO CHRISTIAN LEADERS EMBRACE PAR MINISTRY

Reported by
MS REGINA MONDEZ, Development Communication Specialist, PeaceBuilders Community

On November 8, 2010, PeaceBuilders Community Inc (PBCI) Field Operations Team traveled to Cotabato City to explore the possibility of organizing a Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Community in this area. The team met with 15 participants from various Churches and Christian organizations to discuss and reflect on PAR ministries.

The meeting began with a presentation of PBCI’s vision to establish at least one PAR Community in each of the 81 provinces in the Philippines.  Rev. L. Daniel Pantoja, Founding President of PBCI, shared the sad realities we are currently facing: “Unjust Globalism—poor countries are oppressed and suppressed by powerful nations and multinational corporations.  Conflicted Land—our government is wasting huge amounts from our scarce resources due to armed conflicts against our own people.  Violence of Injustice—our people are enslaved in poverty while warlords run many of our local governments.”

But he also emphasized the fact that God is at work in our land and we are in a crucial time when God’s waves of grace and mercy are sweeping our land towards a taste of God’s shalom: “This is a kairos-moment for the Church in the Philippines.  We, at PeaceBuilders Community, sense that the Spirit of God is prompting the Body of Christ to be a mediator among various conflicting groups in our land.  What would be your response as Christian leaders in Cotabato City?”

An open forum followed.

During the forum the pastors expressed their reactions about PAR ministry. They confirmed that PAR ministry is needed in the area both within the church and with the greater community. Generally, the participants felt that PAR is both important and time sensitive for the area. They acknowledged their need to come together to have a voice in the conflict situation in their province.

It was also mentioned that getting involved in PAR ministries will require a change of mindset among the Christian community regarding their Muslim neighbors. They are aware of the gap between these two communities due to Christian prejudice against Muslim, and the need for efforts to be made to overcome this.

During our time together, we observed that the Christian community is confused about what some Muslim groups are fighting for in terms of territory and how that would affect their lives. Therefore, more dialogue between the Muslims and the Christians  is required to build mutual understanding.

The pastors in Cotabato City and surrounding areas embraced the idea of peace building and PAR ministry during this exploratory meeting. As one participant put it, “I am so happy!  With all my heart, this is the kind of peace building that I long for. This is concrete.”

The participants have confirmed, through the chairman of Cotabato City Ministerial Fellowship, Pastor Valentin Juan, that they are interested in training and will begin PAR Seminar Series in January of 2011.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2010/11/10/1142/

Sep 15 2010

REFLECTING ON THE PEACE POLICY OF PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III

On Monday, September 13, 2010, I was invited to Celebrate Eid Fit’r 1431 in Malacanang Palace with Muslim leaders and other inter-faith peace advocates, hosted by His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Until now, I have no clue how my name got included in the list of those who were invited. When I received the invitation from the Office of the President, I felt honored and, with so much excitement, gladly accepted it.

But that’s not the point of my story.

This is about my enthusiasm about the peace policy of my country’s President.  I barely touched my food—excellent food, by the way—because I got so excited with what he was saying.

His message was very similar to his speech last September 1st, 2010, celebrating the National Peace Consciousness Month.  He started by revisiting various landmarks in our journey as a nation as we pursue just-peace:  “We hark back to the peace accords that we forged with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army twenty-four years ago and with the Moro National Liberation Front fourteen years back. Each year in this month, we celebrate these and other notable breakthroughs while rekindling our fervour to build a more peaceful and progressive society. And as we recall the milestones, we acknowledge the people—from within government or without—who have been the driving force in our journey towards peace.”

During the course of that presidential dinner, he kept mentioning the theme for this year’s peace celebration: “People Power at the Heart of the Peace Process.”  I like what he said: “I believe that all the triumphs that we have achieved would not have been possible if not for the concerted efforts of peace advocates from the communities, from friends in civil society, and from the common, compassionate Filipino who believes in equality, good will, and the power of positive discourse. Their solidarity demonstrated through active involvement in the dialogues, consultations, and other spaces for peace has provided us a staunch brace to sustain our work for peace and development.”

And of course, he said his favorite campaign statement: “Kayo ang aking boss” (You are my boss.)  This time, he said it in the context of describing the role of the people in the coming peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP): “The peace process is for you and should be by all of us. As long as we have ownership of it, our collective voices will continue to reverberate for peace. We will ensure that these will be heard through responsive governance.”

Responsive governance!  This phrase made my day!  I enjoyed that phrase more than the excellent food in Malacanang Palace that evening.

I’m one of those peace workers on the field who have seen people whom the President described as “people… shackled not only by violence, but also by the insecurity, cynicism, and paralysis that arises from violence.”

President Noynoy (P-Noy) seems to really have embarked on a “journey of transformation.”

I believe he is sincere.  Sincerity is a very good start.  But we need to see his volitional acts as a leader of our nation.  He must have the political will to implement those beautiful words, especially in the midst of global and local forces, many of them motivated by greed and power, who might derail the people’s aspiration for genuine and lasting peace.

I promise to pray for my President everyday—for the sake of the people and of this beautiful land that I love so much.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2010/09/15/reflecting-on-the-peace-policy-of-president-benigno-aquino-iii/