Religious Leaders Challenged to Blaze Peace Search as IRSMP Fetes 2008 Gains

LOCAL religious leaders have been challenged to take a more pre-eminent role in helping society resolve Mindanao’s Bangsamoro conflict, particularly amid the impasse in the negotiation between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) Catholic convenor Fr. Angel C. Calvo raised this imperative during the organization’s “Solidarity Thanksgiving” year-end program held at Patio Palmeras in the evening of Sunday, December 28. Our contribution to the search for a “justice for all” kind of peace, Fr. Calvo said, is for religious leaders to participate more actively in the search for a solution to the present conflict.

In the coming year, he said, “we have to continue with our role to create a culture of peace in Mindanao with all the resources at our disposal”.

The thanksgiving also marked the local Muslim community’s observance of Amun Jadid, or the Islmaic New Year, which this year fell on December 29.

During the same program, the IRMSP along with its secretariat, Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), awarded plaques of appreciation to the Civil Service Commission regional office, Department of Interior and Local Government city office, Katilingban Para Sa Kalambuan, Inc., Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, and Zamboanga City Federation of Differently-abled Communities. These organizations were particularly active in 2008’s Week of Peace celebration held in the last week of November.

IRMSP Muslim convenor Prof. Ali Yacub in the same program discoursed on the significance of the Islamic New Year. He said the Islamic calendar marked its start with Prophet Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medinah on July 16, 622 (A.D.) but its public use was introduced the year 638 AD. In 2009, it is year 1430 in the Hijrah calendar.

Prof. Yacub explained the Islamic calendar, which is based on lunar cycles, is mandated by the Holy Quran. Since it is shorter by 11 days than the Gregorian or Christian calendar, the meteorological seasons do not occur in the same months annually. The Hijrah calendar astrologically completes its lunar-based cycle in 33 years.

Quoting an Islamic scholar, Prof. Yacub said: “The Islamic year reminds Muslims ever year not of the pomp and glory of Islam but of its sacrifice and prepares them to do the same”.

In their responses during the thanksgiving program, PAZ Vice-President Dr. Grace Rebollos on behalf of the Catholic advocates remarked that the foundation of communal peace lies in individuals’ sense and practice of peace. She said Zamboanga City is the common home of all its inhabitants despite their religious and cultural diversity. She conveyed the Catholic members’ gratitude to other faith members in the IRSMP for their friendship and trust in their shared visions and advocacies for peace.

Speaking for their communities as well, pastor Rev. Pablo Palis said local evangelicals are particularly thankful for the opportunities to be involved in the dialogue of life and community building that the IRSMP provides them. On the part of the Subanons, Timoay Noval Lambo said his people have always been by culture peaceful and so they totally support through active involvement in the interfaith movement.

Fr. Calvo cited the various accomplishments of IRSMP and PAZ during the year, congratulating in particular the numerous youth volunteers for taking part in most of the peace-building and advocacy projects and activities.

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