Iligan opens week of peace

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/25 March) – The city’s peace advocates spruced up their
vehicles with white balloons in a motorcade from the city plaza to Linamon in
Lanao del Norte and Dalipuga and back to the plaza for the program to open
this year’s Iligan Week of Peace.

“This is a celebration of peace,” declared Juanito Enriquez Jr., chair of
Civil Society
Organization Forum for Peace (CSOFP), a network of non-governmental and
individual peace-builders in Lanao.

This initiative to mainstream peace-building is in its third year now and
takes roots from
community-based and organizational stand against war. Its theme today is
“duyog sa pagpanday sa kalinaw” (join us in building peace).

“War affected the lives of innocent civilians. Inspite of these, Iligan city
maintains its image as a peace zone,” said Enriquez.

As a peace zone, the city council passed Resolution No. 04-58 declaring every
last week of March as “week of peace in Iligan City.”

The resolution states that Iligan is a zone of peace in Mindanao and an
important refuge and sanctuary for displaced communities from both Muslims and
Christians.

Ted Juanite of Pagsabua sa Kalasan (PSK) Inc., read separate statements of Al
Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and
Alexander Marohombsar Lacawa from the National Unified Command of Moro
National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“Peace is achieved when there is genuine de-escalation of violence and there
is ultimate ceasefire when police forces become police civilian in character,”
Murad said.

Lacawa’s statement mentioned “that MNLF has organized itself as a unified
command. With peace agreements, we are compelled to fight war against war and
for sustainable peace.”

“As we renew our ties, we also celebrate this week of peace in friendships with
Mindanawons,” Lacawa further stated.

Abel Moya, program manager of Pakigdait Inc. which focuses on the Balik
Inudaran campaign, said on peace-builders as a minority group: “We may be few
who took the road less traveled by but we must continue embracing the
challenges of culture
for peace against violence and threats.”

“We may be different but we have the same objective: to achieve peace,” said
Engr. Alejandro Rondez, barangay councilor and vice chair of Iligan Barangay
Councils (ILBACO).

Forming into a circle, the participants at the plaza sang “Let there be Peace”
as they released the white balloons.

At 12 noon, peace advocates joined a hundred participants in the first Joint
GRP-MILF Peace Advocacy and Information Drive at Elena Tower Inn. The Advocacy
“tackled basic orientation on the ceasefire mechanisms.

“This day-long peace drive is primarily directed to 103rd Brigade soldiers to
educate them about the ceasefire mechanism,” said Brig. Gen. Benjamin
Dolorfino, chair of the government peace panel in the Ad Hoc Joint Action
Group (AHJAG).

The meeting also discussed the functions of the CCCH, International
Monitoring Team, Local Monitoring Team, AHJAG, and of the comnunity-based
Bantay Ceasefire.”

“Soldiers and MILF rebels around will also have solidarity night for them to
get along with each other towards strengthening the ceasefire structures,” he
said.

Also part of the week of peace celebration was the opening at 2 p.m. at the
city plaza of Laro ng Lahi or indigenous games;

The week of peace will end with a civil society general assembly on March 30.

The week-long activities are being supported by the city government, Catholic
Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and VSO Peace Mindanao. (Violeta M.
Gloria/MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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