Wednesday, November 21, 2007
CAGAYAN de Oro Journal (Ben Balce / Nov 21) - The Armed Forces of the Philippines hosted a two-day Bishops-Ulama conference (BUC) APF-PNP Forum for Peace with the theme: "Building Bridges with our Peace officers" relative to the 33rd general assembly of the BUC held at Pryce Plaza Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City, military officials said Tuesday.
"This forum promotes a greater understanding in the attainment of lasting peace where the military and police are given good insight about their role in peace process," said AFP chief General Hermogenes Esperon.
Esperon in his welcome remarks said in the process, this activates their support command to peace and development area by which it complements in the work of the Bishops-Ulama Conference.
Primarily the office of the AFP's J7 under Brigadier General Alfredo Cayton hosted the two-day forum.
The Army's 4th Infantry Division commanding general and the BUC-AFP-PNP committee chairman Major General Jose Barbieto said the AFP's participation in this endeavor will enhance closer relationship with the various Christians and Muslim religious groups in Mindanao.
"It is an opportunity for the AFP to showcase its sincerity in supporting the peace advocacy of the inter-faith groups," said Barbieto adding that the government is an active partner in pursuing peace and development in the region.
4ID's civil military operations chief Lt. Colonel Emmanuel Sinogba said the participants are composed of 24 catholic bishops who are members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, (CBCP), 26 Ulama and Ustadz, members of the Ulama League of the Philippines, (ULP), and 18 Protestant Bishops and Pastors who are members of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines.
Sinogba said that 38 military officers including military chaplains from the AFP headed by EASMINCOM chief Lieutenant General Cardoso Luna and 14 officers from the PNP led by Police Regional Office 10 (PRO 10) head Chief Supt. Teodorico Capuyan.
The Convenors of the conference were Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao Archdiocese, Ulama League of the Philippines president Dr. Mahid Mutilan, and Bishop Mariano Gomez Jr, Bishop Emeritus of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines.
"All the participants were given a chance to participate during the discussion," said Sinogba adding that a healthy and constructive dialogue with the peace officers through out the region participated.
Sinogba said that a lawyer Alonto of Marawi City asked the BUC to resolve and asked the DepEd to integrate Peace Education in elementary and high school levels.
Cagayan de Oro's 1st District Representative Rufus Rodriguez mentioned that he proposed for a meeting with BUC and Mindanao legislators to come up with a better interfaith understanding.
Archbishop Capalla, the BUC convenor, mentioned that the CRSAFP orchestrated a Peace Initiative in Mindanao and he also requested the AFP and PNP ground commanders to attend peace initiatives at the local level.
The Bishops Ulama conference is in pursuit of a common vision, these religious leaders organized themselves whose mission is to support the ongoing peace process in the region to promote mutual knowledge and understanding, acquaintance and friendship as well as reconciliation through repentance and forgiveness as indispensable dements of the culture of justice and peace for total development and progress in Mindanao.
Sinogba said the last day of the conference was held at the Dynasty Hotel, in Cagayan de Oro City as continuing efforts on peace building.
The forum was formally opened at 9:30 am at the conference of the Dynasty Hotel with interfaith prayer led by religious leaders (Priest and Imam) and followed by the opening statement of Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro City.
Archbishop Capalla, one of the convenor, read about the Proclamation Nr. 127 signed by PGMA last Nov. 26 2001, declaring the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December of every year, as the "Mindanao Week for Peace" celebration.
Sinogba said that all the participants came up with their plans for the forthcoming Mindanao Week for Peace Celebration on Nov. 29 until Dec. 5, 2007.
The groups came up as they presented their output during the conference according to Sinogba.
The groups came up with their plans such as: "Bishops and Ulamas inter religious gathering for interfaith prayers," "Walk for Peace," "Caravan for Peace," and "Convocation Program of all Elementary, High School and College Level" in their respective areas in commemoration of the Mindanao Week for Peace Celebration.
"Even Archbishop Capalla was impressed on the result of the workshop presented by the different group leaders," said Sinogba.
"The BUC forum with its life long processes on dialoguing with the different stakeholders in the society, continue to exert efforts by making a covenant to share the dynamics happening from the top down to lowest level," said Sinogba adding that the efforts have been filtered in achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in Mindanao.