High-level Christian and Muslim leaders signed a Manifesto calling for — inclusive peace and development; denunciation of violent extremism; sustained peace education and dialogue among grassroots; institutionalization of political dialogue in the context of inter-faith cooperation; ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law; and, local governments’ initiative towards effective information dissemination of the BOL.
These Bangsamoro and Christian community leaders affirmed the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA), the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro (CAB), and the newly-passed Republic Act 11054 known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). They expressed “appreciation that the peace agreements and their dividends gained after years of negotiations should be understood very well.” They also recognize that “a greater responsibility is put on our shoulders after the BOL’s passage to implement it, to make it inclusive and participatory.”
Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in his welcome remarks, said inter-faith dialogues like this “clear misunderstanding on the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government and address apprehensions by some quarters, especially among Christians.”
The joint Moro-Christian leaders’ manifesto also stated that they are “grateful to the effort of the Cristian leaders in fleshing out some of the salient provisions in the BOL through their 17-Point Agenda for Peace.”
“This conference was aimed at engaging peace stakeholders,” said Rev. Fr. Clifford Baira of the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, “to help lay the foundation of an inclusive peace process, especially the minority Christians living within the Bangsamoro territory.”
As an inter-faith body of religious leaders, they expressed together their commitment “to conduct joint initiatives between and among ourselves to further safeguard the gains of the peace process.”
“With their sincere pledge of cooperation, friendship and partnership during the interfaith conference in Davao,” said The Rev. Dr. Aldrin Peñamora, “the top Muslim and Christian leaders had taken a crucial positive step toward attaining just peace for the people of Mindanao and the entire nation.”
“For me it was a significant and historic event,” said Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Roman Catholic archbishop-emeritus of the Archdiocese of Davao.
And for the peace and reconciliation advocates and workers on the ground, it will be easier to conduct actual peace dialogue when they can see their top leaders embracing the other, the neighbor to be loved, the neighbor with whom we share life.