CAGAYAN de Oro Journal ( Ben Balce / Nov23) - President Gloria Macapagal-Aroyo called on the religious leaders of Mindanao to work together during the opening of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police (BUC-AFP-PNP) Forum for Peace held at Pryce Hotel, this city late last week.
She even urged the people to rally their support, unity and cooperation to eradicate hunger and poverty in the country.
The President reiterated that Love of Country is one spirit that makes people move forward in her message to the participants.
Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commanding general Major General Jose Barbieto earlier said that the BUC-AFP-PNP forum for peace promotes and supports the process of building bridges of peace with the peace officers from the AFP and PNP by holding dialogues in attaining peace.
"The Peace Forum aims to encourage the promotion of peace, mutual understanding, acquaintances and fellowship among Christians and Muslims amid religious diversity," said Barbieto.
Barbieto said the AFP and PNP are mandated by law to maintain, promote, and protect peace and order in our country.
"The Bishops-Ulama (Buc) is committed to the principle of Respect as the only way of human and humane way of solving problems and conflicts," said Barbieto.
4ID's civil military operations chief Lt. Colonel Emmanuel Sinogba said the President called on the participants to be united in turning the country into a First World nation.
Sinogba said the President was supposed to speak to the participants of the forum, but bad weather in Manila prevented her from flying in to the city.
Sinogba said Arroyo was able to send in a copy of her speech which was read by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.
"The peace forum aims for total reconciliation, repentance in the culture of peace and forgiveness that supports the peace process between the government and rebel groups," said Sinogba.
Arroyo in her short message, read by Sec. Jesus Dureza, emphasized on the "Socio-Economic Development' program of the government.
Nations must love and take care of the Armed Forces to preserve the nations they are sworn to protect, based on the current guiding points of soldiers in building a "Strong Republic" the President further said.
Sinogba said the AFP hosted the Bishops-Ulama Peace Forum with Arroyo, as the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the occasion on Nov. 15-16, 2007.
The two-day interfaith affair with the theme, "Building Bridges of Peace With our Peace Officers," is a yearly activity participated in by Bishops-Ulama Conference (Buc) members who are leaders and clerics of Christian and Muslim religious groups from the AFP-PNP to support the Peace Process in Mindanao.
Sinogba added that the BUC forum started in November 1996, after the signing of the Peace Agreement between the (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the mission to help attain a lasting peace in Mindanao.
Major AFP services, unified command, division and brigade commanders in Mindanao attended the said activity which included Lt Gen Alexander Yano, Lt Gen Horacio Tolentino, EASTMINCOM Commander Lt General Cardozo Luna, and Western Mindanao Commander, Major General Nelson Allaga.
Others who attended were Major Gen Alexander Pajarito, to include their respective chiefs, chaplains, Pastors and Imams, and Brig Gen Roland Rodriguez, Assistant 4ID Commander, Civil Military operations personnel led by Lt Colonel Sinogba of G7, 4ID, Lt Colonel Greg T Almerol, CRS, AFP, Major Edgar Rivas, 52nd CRU, 5th CRG, CRS, AFP, and Captain Arnaldo L Manjares, Commanding Officer, 4th CMOU, Civil-Military Operations Group, PA.
The Buc convenors who attended the peace forum included Davao Archdiocese Archbishop Fernando R Capalla, representing the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop Emeritus Hilario M Gomez, of the National Church of Christ in the Philippines (NCCP) and Dr. Mahid M Mutilan, President of the Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP) representing the Muslim sector.