A Statement of Solidarity for the Victims of War in the Islamic City of Marawi

As the fierce fighting in Marawi enters its second week, we count more than a hundred casualties, scores of hostages, and over 17,000 internally displaced families who have left the city for safer grounds. In the strongest terms, we condemn these atrocities and dread their escalation to more bloodshed, leading to a higher fatality count, and spreading to other areas.
 
Violence is not new to Mindanao which has been gripped by a long history of poverty, neglect, and internecine strife. In Zamboanga City, we recall the trauma of the 2013 standoff between rouge rebel elements and our security forces. Now the war in Marawi shows that the threats remain. Buttressed by corruption and narco-politics, religious extremism and anti-government ideologies, multiple groups from various areas, including foreign terrorist elements, have joined forces and continue to wreck havoc.
 
Amidst all these challenges, we note that the government actions – whether in terms of the recent proclamation of a 60-day martial law in Mindanao, emergency relief operations, social development interventions, and governance measures – are so far broadly supported and recognized as part of the series of responses for dealing with our problems. It is true that questions continue to be asked and doubts expressed. The experiences of Martial Law 1972 haunt the nation, making us fear the return of past abuses. Yet we take the cue from the bishops of Mindanao, most of our legislators, and many more constituents across the length and breadth of Mindanao, whose approving voices denote the hope for an end to the myriad forms of violence in our homeland. As decisive steps are taken, we take heart in the safety nets provided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and trust in our leaders’ wisdom, commitment to the rule of law, compassion, and love of country.
 
While these events have manifested the worst of the self-styled oppressors and threat groups that have hostaged the residents of Marawi, they have brought out the courage and peace-loving character of our people. Indeed we are made of these. Muslims protecting Christians in ways that show that we are One Mindanao, even as the spirit of Ramadan inspires our Muslim brothers and sisters towards special protective actions to shield terrified Christians against the dangers of detection and possible annihilation.
 
In the face of the mounting hostilities, and in solidarity with the affected families and communities of Marawi City, we – the members of civil society in Zamboanga City – call upon all protagonists of this war for:
 
1. An end to the violence and the vigilant enforcement of the International Humanitarian Law especially, among others, the protection of civilians against the taking of hostages, enforced disappearance, using protected persons as human shields, reprisals against civilians and civilian objects; the pillage of places of worship, schools, hospitals, and homes; the arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
 
2. Responsibility and accountability for violations of the above cited law and of human rights, especially in terms of more solidarity actions for our internally displaced brothers and sisters, i.e., the sending of emergency relief items, the provision of psycho-social support, the mobilization of all efforts to immediately stabilize their situation – including a return to their homes – and to restore the peace.
 
3. Finally, observing that these events have raised issues that have polarized the nation, let us strengthen our interreligious bonds by…
– Helping quell the fires of hatred, divisive labeling, and counter-productive blaming;
– Understanding and analyzing the complications of the conflict and the dynamics of societies sharing different identities and ways of life; and
– Appreciating the life-giving factors of peace in all our religious and cultural traditions.
 
MAY OUR GOD IN HIS MERCY GUIDE US ALL INTO THE WAY OF PEACE!
 
THE INTERRELIGIOUS SOLIDARITY FOR PEACE AND
THE ZAMBOANGA PEACE AND SECURITY FORUM
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A CALL FOR HEALING FOR PERSONAL AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

(Statement of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace on the

19th Celebration of the Week of Peace in Zamboanga City)

ALMOST two decades have passed since the first celebration of the Week of Peace in 1997.  Over the years, we have continuously called for a unity in the midst of our differences, justice for those whose rights were disregarded and taken away, recognition and honor for the pains of those who have been damaged by a variety of current and historical forms of violence, and forgiveness for our own offenses against each other that continue to divide us as a community, as a nation, and as a people.  It is as basic as our survival as human beings.  It is as sublime as our noble destiny as children of a Divine Creator who keeps assuring us of the gifts of mercy and peace.

Once more, as we mark the 19th year of the Week of Peace celebration we make the urgent call for healing and reconciliation…. now more than ever!  The events of the past twelve months point to the crying need for us to consider this call in view of what has been happening in our city, in our country, and in the world today.  The grinding poverty,  the homelessness, hunger, the kidnapping and criminality,  the stubborn corruption in many establishments,  and the star issue that has seemingly become the centerpiece of all law enforcement efforts – the war on drugs.  In the political developments here and abroad,  we have witnessed  the careless use of words – either seriously or jokingly, the harm  these words do on the vulnerable sectors,  the models that are  forced upon the senses of our children. 

These have wounded us! All these and many more have driven deeper the wedges that have long divided our people.  These have made us turn against ourselves and against each other.  Leaders and the led, governments and the citizenry, the rich and the needy,  the indigenous people, the internally displaced people, the informal settlers, our rural poor in farming and fishing.   Let our wounds teach us something about ourselves. There is domestic violence in our families.  There is drug abuse among our young and adults. There is a wild hunt for money that is led by the wrong priorities. 

As a result, we journey into the future with a curious sense of justice that benefits only those whose voices are loudest – those who are in power, those who are near, and those who are at center.  Hence, we call for all-inclusive healing and reconciliation for those who are powerless, who are far, and who are at the margins.  We call them… the POOR, THE VULNERABLE AND THE VOICELESS.  .  We cannot truly claim to care, to love our neighbor, to work for justice, if we do not dare to bridge the gap that keeps us apart from them, that hinders our service to them that stops us from co-creating a better world with them.  This is the challenge of our time.  To heal, reconcile, to make peace, to be transformed in ourselves, and together to become a critical mass that can transform our society.  By all means, LET US HEAL! 

(SGD)

FR. ANGEL C. CALVO, CMF                             PROF. ALI T. YACUB, AL-HJ

Lead Convener, ISP                                               Muslim Convener, ISP 

President, PAZ                                                       President, GCCPBA

ATTY. PAULINO R. ERSANDO                      HJI. AMILPASA T. BANDAYING

Evangelical Convener, ISP                                Indigenous Peoples Convener, ISP

President, ZMF                                                      Presiding Officer, ZCIPCL 

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STATEMENT OF THE YOUTH PARTICIPANTS During the YOUTH PEACE FORUM

Some 100 youth leaders coming from the public secondary schools and communities in the city and Basilan Province take part in the celebration of the International Youth Day on August 13 through Youth Peace Forum at Claret Gymnasium, Claret School of Zamboanga City. The said activity was initiated by the Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) through its youth arm Youth Solidarity for Peace (YSP). During the forum, relevant issues that directly affecting the youth sector in the city was tackled by the different resource persons such as: The role of youth in national building; illegal drugs, Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law and the Effects of the Climate Change. The energetic participants were also given the privileged to ask questions to the invited speakers during the open forum.        The Youth Peace forum ended with peace planning and coming up with a statement address to the President, local government and to fellow youth. ———————————

IN THE OBSERVANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY DATED AUGUST 12 SOME 100 YOUTH LEADERS FROM THE PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES CAME UP WITH A STATEMENT ON AUGUST 13 DURING THE YOUTH PEACE FORUM IN THE CITY URGING THE PRESIDENT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THEIR FELLOW YOUTHS TO ADDRESS THE PRESSING ISSUES ON GOOD GOVERNANE, CLIMATE CHANGE AND ILLEGAL DRUGS.     

Good Governance

To our beloved President Rodrigo R. Duterte, we are fully supporting your stiff campaign against illegal drugs and corruption. This is the best thing to do, if we all wanted to see our country to move forward. However, the issues on Extra Judicial Killings (EJK) of the suspected drug-related personalities which took place almost everyday in our own very eye to stop and respect the humanitarian rights that everybody has. We urge you to use fully the due process in apprehending these personalities.

We are banking on your integrity, the trust of Filipino people and your firmness to bring the desired and positive changes in our country as your flagship of governance during the campaign period anchored on “Change is Coming”.  

For the Local Chief Executive of the city, we are looking forward for more tangible projects that will lead to the booming of our city’s economy and probably higher influx of local and foreign tourists. It will be greatly appreciated if we, the citizens of this beloved city especially the youths, the future of our city to see and benefit it.

Furthermore, we also calling you dear Mayor to beef up the security measures that the city is adopting so that our city, will be a peaceful and secured city.

To fellow youth: Climate change is affecting all over our country and in the world and it is getting worst, relevant to this, we are appealing to our fellow youth would like to ask for your full  cooperation and help solve this problem. Let us work hand in hand to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Climate Change

To the President: On the current issues on the illegal logging and its cause and effect on the environment such as flooding and landslides, we would like to suggest you to intensify the campaign against deteriorating environment and implement fully the available laws that prohibits, protects and preserves the environment. We wanted that the next generation will still have the opportunity to appreciate the gift of Mother Earth.  

Establishing a partnership with the media for the intensified campaign and advocacy on environment is the best and viable option to fight against climate change.

Aside from finding mitigating measures to scrap the adverse effect of climate change, we also appealing you to address the equal important issues that affecting us especially the young ones, to wit:   

To our Local Chief Executive: To address the issue on proper waste disposal and sanitation, we are asking your office to check all the government offices not to exclude the private offices if they are implementing religiously the proper waste sanitations. In addition, expedite or revisit city ordinances in connection with the issues being presented.

In addition, please include also the following:

  • Improving and strengthening the implementation of the laws in relation to environment and climate change;
  • Conducting activities/city wide lectures to spread awareness about climate change and make them involve in the mitigations.

Illegal Drugs

To President Duterte: We the youth leaders would like to inform you our dear President to strengthen the fight against illegal drugs. In doing so, we also appeal to you to spare the life of innocent civilians from this war against drug, especially those who are form the youth sector. We hope dear President that you should obey the law and follow the due process of our land.

In addition, we also include in our wish-lists for our President, the following:

  1. To provide just and doable solutions to the cancerous problem in our society now a days,  the illegal:
  2.  That after the six months target period to eradicate the illegal drugs, their will only be good citizens in our society;
  3. That after six months, we the youth can freely walk in the streets and no one could ever harm us;
  4. Lastly, we hope that you will continue the campaign on illegal drugs so that development in our country will prosper.

We are bringing down the challenge to all the authorities to become fair in the fight against the illegal drugs. To the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and to all who are advocating for human rights to listen to our little message. 

  

To the local government: We are calling all barangay officials all over Zamboanga City to coordinate with the local and national government agencies for the continues campaign against illegal drugs. We, the youth sector are challenging you to become more active and supportive, coordinate with the schools and promote inter-barangays campaign to finally put an end to the illegal drugs.

To fellow youth: We are appealing to our fellow youth to challenge yourself to help combat the ill effect of illegal drugs. Learn how to say no to the all the wrong doings and become a role model for the youth and to the next generation.  

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