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Aug 03 2017

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THE NEW JPAR COMMISSION OF THE PCEC IS IN DIRECT DIALOGUE WITH THE MILF

Representatives of PCEC and MILF meet at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. 02 August 2017. Photo by Aldrin Penamora.

02 August 2017, Camp Darapanan – The representatives of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), led by Bishop Noel Alba Pantoja, met with the members of the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. Both the PCEC and the MILF are exploring the possibility of establishing a technical working committee for inter-faith dialogue, transitional justice advocacy, peacebuilding, and reconciliation.

 

This is the latest relationship-building event in a series of inter-faith dialogue between the PCEC and the MILF since 2008.

 

The highlights of this series of meetings are as follows:

 

:: In 05 July 2008, PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) led evangelical leaders to visit the office of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel at the MILF Headquarters in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. During the dialogue between the then PCEC Bishop Tendero and Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF Peace Panel, the background of the conflict between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Bangsamoro Muslims in Mindanao was revisited. Chairman Iqbal shared the Bangsamoro narrative while Bishop Tendero shared a Filipino Christian’s narrative. The MILF Peace Panel also affirmed the primacy of the Peace Process and emphasized their desire to bring closure to this conflict that has been going on for centuries. This “closure” means the signing of a Peace Agreement between the GRP and the MILF that is hoped to be the beginning of a political resolution towards genuine just-peace in Mindanao.

 

:: In 09 March 2011. PCEC and the MILF Peace Panel held an inter-faith dialogue on the newly-resumed peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF. Bishop Efraim Tendero (who was the PCEC National Director), Bishop John Tayoto (then Chairman of the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission), Bishop Genesis Udang (who was representing PCEC Mindanao), and Bishop Noel Pantoja (who was the General Director of the Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines) led the 78 evangelical participants—pastors, church leaders, and mission workers—representing various Christian groups in Mindanao. The MILF Peace Panel were represented by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Attorney Michael Mastura, and Professor Abhoud Syed Lingga.  They were assisted by Mr. Mike Pasigan, Head of the Secretariat, MILF Peace Panel.

 

:: In 14 May 2013, then PCEC Bishop Efraim Tendero met with MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Tendero asked Iqbal on how the Church can enhance its support to the GPH-MILF Peace Talks. Before answering Tendero’s question, Iqbal gave an update on the current state of the negotiation between the GPH and the MILF. He highlighted the need to sign the Annexes in the newly-signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The said FAB Annexes include crucial details such as wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization.

“The Church can help in the peace process more effectively if its constituents would support the hastening of the completion of the Annexes in the newly-signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” Iqbal said. “The resolution to the GPH-MILF conflict is political in nature.”

Atty. Naguib G. Sinarimbo, a member of the MILF Peace Panel, also suggested that the Church will have “to journey with the government and with the negotiators and keep the pressure on both panels not to further delay the transition, as time is of the essence.”

The other members of the Bangsamoro Transitional Commission, which Iqbal also chairs, were also present, including the high-ranking member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

 

:: In 02 April 2016, Bishop Noel Alba Pantoja led a PCEC delegation to visit the Central Committee Office of the MILF. Chairman Murad Ebrahim welcomed the PCEC delegation personally. The two bodies discussed how leaders of Evangelical Christians and Muslim religious groups can work together for a justice-based peace and reconciliation initiatives in Mindanao and in the whole Philippines. Among those who were with Bishop Noel Pantoja were Dr. Aldrin Penamora, Bishop Gene Udang, Pastor Nemuel Castrodes, Prof. Annabel Manzanilla Manalo, Ms. Jay Atiola, Rev. Alborne Llera, Ms. Beng Bicaldo, and Bishop Tomas Duan Mascariñas. This was an initiative of the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission. PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) served as the connection channel between PCEC and the MILF.

 

 

The new Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation Commisssion (JPARCom) of the PCEC, from now on, will directly relate to the representatives of MILF in establishing a technical working group between various councils of Christian churches in the Philippines and the Bangsamoro people.

 

PBCI will go back to its original calling — doing actual conflict transformation processes among grassroots in various armed-conflicted areas in the country.

 

About the author

Information & Communications Team

The Information & Communications Team (ICT) is a group of volunteer writers and web designers at PeaceBuilders Community Incorporated (PBCI) who are working from different parts of the globe. Their task is to share PBCI's Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) activities — like, inclusive development initiatives, social entrepreneurial training, multiplication of effective peacebuilding workers, conflict transformation consulting, and restorative justice processes.

PBCI is a community of missionaries who are dreaming and working together for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land.

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