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“Mindanao Week of Peace” kicks off in Marawi

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)--The celebration of Mindanao Week of Peace (MWoP) here opened Thursday, November 24, with a program highlighting the importance of sustaining peace in Mindanao.

The kick-off ceremony participated by students and peace advocates was spearheaded by the Mindanao State University (MSU) through the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM).

"In MSU Marawi and the MSU System, we celebrate Mindanao Week of Peace as an acknowledgment of the blessing that we have in so far as achieving peace here in Mindanao and what we can do to contribute to lasting peace," said MSU-Marawi IPDM Executive Director Dr. Acram Latiph.

During the program, peace messages were delivered by veteran peace advocates to remind students that attaining lasting peace is the responsibility of everyone.

For Latiph, he emphasized that peace is something that everyone should be striving for throughout the way. "Ang kapayapaan ay obligasyon at responsibilidad ng bawat isa dahil kapag nakamit natin ito, hindi lang tayo ang makikinabang kundi pati na rin ang ating mga anak at mga darating pang henerasyon sa ating bayan," he said.

[Peace is everyone's obligation and responsibility because when we achieve it, not only will we benefit but also our children and future generations in our country.]

Prof. Moctar Matuan, a former director of IPDM, cited that the history of Mindanao should be preserved by teaching it to younger generations. "If we can teach Mindanao history, we can hopefully reduce biases, prejudices, and discrimination and build a better understanding of each other," he said.

Prof. Norkaya Mohammad, director of MSU Institute of Local Governance, encouraged students to be ambassadors of peace and instill the message that MSU is a national peace university. "Naprotektahan natin ang MSU sa siege dahil lahat tayo ay pro-peace [we protected MSU from the siege because we are all pro-peace]," she said.

Abdulcader Ayo, dean of MSU-King Faisal Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies, corroborated that MSU is a university promoting a culture of peace as evidenced by its offering of a class on Fundamental Peace Education 101. 

MSU Marawi Office of Information, Press and Publication Director Saidamen Limgas, on the other hand, underscored the relevance of understanding, acceptance, and respect to foster healthy Muslim-Christian relationships. 

"Pwede tayong manirahan ng matiwasay basta may acceptance, understanding at respect. Because ang peace ay makikita ninyo sa sarili niyo, nagsisimula sa sarili natin. Nasa puso yan ng bawat tao. Remember, you cannot give what you do not have," he added.

[We can live peacefully as long as there is acceptance, understanding and respect. Because you can see peace within yourself, it starts within ourselves. It is in the heart of every person.]

MSU Shariah Center Director Alim Anwar Radiamoda emphasized that Islam seeks to spread peace. "Islam is not only a religious belief, it is peace, order, harmony, tolerance, compassion and moderation," he stressed.

For Bishop Edwin Dela Peña of Prelature of Marawi, he said the task of building peace in Marawi is a continuing process after the city went through a harrowing experience and many of its displaced residents have not yet returned. But as they begin to witness some displaced persons slowly returning to ground zero to rebuild their lives, home and properties, they also see a sign of hope that lasting peace is bound to happen in the city.

The opening program was followed by the release of peace doves and the offering of free legal consultation and notarial services. Other activities lined up for the week included Tree-planting; Youth Peace Day, a Workshop on preventing and countering violent extremism, Blood-letting, Agricultural, Ceramics and FabLab products display, a Seminar on peace and development, and Peace Bazaar.

Started in 2001 through a Proclamation issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the MWoP aims to recognize the common aspirations of Mindanaoans to live in peace, unity, and harmony with each other regardless of status in life, religion or culture. (APB/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)

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Apipa Bagumbaran

Assistant Regional Head

Region 10

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