BUC says peace dialogues 'unprecedented,' throws full support
Davao City (10 March) -- Davao Archibishop Fernando Capalla, chair of the influential Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), expressed high hopes for a "historic" consultation to be conducted across Mindanao, saying that "promoting peace and dialogue should remain paramount among the people."
In opening remarks made at a recent workshop for regional project coordinators, Arbp. Capalla said that while Mindanao's religious leaders have long been initiating dialogue, conducting such a series today on such a scale is "most welcome."
The BUC is sponsoring the conduct of close to 300 focus group discussions (FGDs) across the Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Caraga, Central Mindanao, Socsksargen, Northeastern Mindanao, and Lanao del Norte.
The consultations will be "inclusive, meaning we will solicit the views from as many sectoral and regional representatives as possible," according to Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, Project Team Leader.
Major schools and universities across Mindanao have also been tapped to carry out the project, he added. These are the Ateneo universities in Davao and Zamboanga; Notredame University in Cotabato City; the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, Gen. Santos City, and Tawi-Tawi; Urios College in Butuan City and Dansalan College in Marawi City in partnership with Mountain view college in Bukidnon.
Arbp. Capalla said that "Konsult Mindanaw," the implementing body responsible for the conduct of the FGDs and the packaging of their results, "is the biggest event of its nature in history of Mindanao."
"These current efforts are unprecedented in our country. It has never happened before. It is an endeavor that will hopefully change not only Mindanao's landscape but our nation as well. Thus, stakeholders were invited to make this event happen," he added.
He said he was hopeful that the'byproduct' of the extensive survey will not only be the narratives and statistical findings. Instead, he hoped that at the end of the project, the people's awareness on interfaith dialogue and peace-building will have been heightened and deepened.
He hastened to add however, that the community based consultations do not intend to substitute, but instead complement, the Mindanao peace process. He mentioned that only recently, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Alhadj Murad had agreed to be documented talking with him in the spirit of goodwill, openness, and fraternity.
Dr. Hamid A. Barra, Muslim BUC co-convenor, assured the implementors of his full support, saying that that the BUC leadership "will always be present, and remain committed as a partner in this endeavor." This was echoed by Bp. Hilario Gomez, Protestant co-convenor at the BUC, who said that "we all need to band together regardless of faith or ethnicity. We are one with God. With this we recognize the noble intention of peace making in Mindanao." (BUC-PIA XI) [top]