CAGAYAN de Oro City (Ben Balce / Nov 16) — The entire city has been placed under heightened security alert and police personnel have been augmented since Thursday by City police director Supt. Antonio Montalba with the two-day peace forum between the Bishop-Ulama Conference and the Armed Forces and National Police ongoing at the Pryce Plaza here.
President Arroyo was supposed to arrive past noon yesterday to join the meeting with the 79-strong BUC membership of Muslim and Christian religious leaders based in Mindanao, and 51 officers of the AFP and the PNP but her trip was cancelled due to bad weather.
President Arroyo, with the AFP, was also scheduled to host the peace forum today as BUC holds its 33rd general assembly at Dynasty Court Hotel in this city.
Montalba said the scheduled conferences will go on today even if the President does not make it here. He said tight security plans, encompassing travel route, activities, and accommodations, are already in place for the President as well as the 500 participants in the forum.
The forum’s theme is "Building Bridges of Peace with our Peace Officers."
Lt. Col. Emmanuel Sinogba, civil military operations’ chief of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the forum’s purpose is to promote inter-faith understanding, religious tolerance, friendship and constructive dialogues.
Msgr. Rey Monsanto, vicar general of the Cagayan archdiocese, said the forum will identify problems and difficulties blocking the achievement of peace in Mindanao and an action agenda will be drawn up to "strengthen local mechanisms for peace."