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PIA Press Release

PGMA to address Bishops-Ulama General Assembly in Jolo

Manila (20 November) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to underscore her administration's commitment to peace and economic development in Mindanao during the 35th Bishops-Ulama General Assembly at the Notre Dame of Jolo College here just hours before leaving for Peru to attend the 16th Leaders Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) on Nov. 22-23.

The President is scheduled to arrive at 2:30 p.m., with Gov. Abdusakur Tan of Sulu leading the local government officials in welcoming the Chief Executive at the Jolo, Sulu Airport.

Other members of welcoming party include ARMM Vice Gov. Asaruddin Adiong, Sulu Vice Gov. Nur-Anna Sahidulla, Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin and other top officials of different municipalities of the province.

From the airport, the President and her party that also include Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nassir Pangandaman and Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Esperon will proceed the venue of the event where she will be welcomed by the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) officials headed by Davao Diocese Archbishop Fernando Capalla and NDJC president Fr. Emmanuel Sison.

Before delivering her speech, the President will be briefed by Diocese of Jolo and Bongao Bishop Angelito Lampon on the output of the two-day activity held at the Bishop Ben De Jesus Hall of the NDJC.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales will introduce the President who will address the more than 70 religious leaders attending the BUC General Assembly hosted by Sulu province.

The BUC is composed of 24 Catholic bishops who are also members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), 26 Ulama and Ustadz belonging to the Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP) and 18 Protestants bishops and pastors who are members of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines.

Officials of the Pangtagbo, a confederation of the 18 Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, and bishops of the Philippine Conference of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), are also attending the affair as observers.

The Conference is a yearly activity that started in 1996 after the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in September of that year.

It was formed with Archbishop Capalla, Dr. Mahid Mutilan, president of the ULP; and Bishop Hilario M. Gomez Jr., bishop emeritus of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), as co-convenors.

The objective of the BUC is to support the on-going peace process in Mindanao through the promotion of mutual knowledge and understanding, acquaintance and friendship as well as reconciliation through repentance and forgiveness as indispensable elements of the culture and justice and peace of total development and authentic progress.

The BUC used to meet three times a year but since last year, it is now being held twice a year. The last general assembly was held in Davao City in April this year.

Since 1996, the Conference has established major projects such as the Mindanao Week of Peace, annual region wide event involving all sectors of society and all line-agencies of the government in Mindanao.

Other major achievements of the BUC include the Tripartite Youth Peace Camp, the Imam-Priests-Pastors Forum (IPPF), and, the BUC-Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police Forum for Peace which was recently organized to promote healthy and constructive dialogues with the peace officers throughout Mindanao. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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