“We continue taking shared steps in our journey to peace. We make special mention of this year’s events highlighted by the violence in Marawi and the separate explosions in Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and other places in Mindanao. This is also a year that gives place to the search for peaceful alternatives to local conflict such as the Enhanced Bangsamoro Basic Law, the issue of Federalism, and other approaches that mean to address our historical differences. Added to that is the on-going war on drugs, poverty, and corruption,” the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace stated as it officially opened the Mindanao Week of Peace 2017.
The observance of the Week of Peace started in 1997 as initiated by Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and the SALAAM Foundation Inc., and later on by the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace which turned into a Mindanao Wide-celebration then providentially declared through Presidential Proclamation No. 127, series of 2001 under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This has been nationally celebrated through the Mindanao Peace Weaver Networks.
For 20 years now, the Mindanao Week of Peace celebration gathers diverse group of people beyond cultural and political differences participating in various activities such as a Grand Peace Parade (Opening Parade) and Grand Parade of Lights/Torch Parade (Closing Parade).
Majority of the activities of the Mindanao Week of Peace 2017 still brought together people from different sectors. From November 21 to 23, PAZ organized a Regional Peace Forum gathering around 65 Youth from Schools, Peace Clubs, Student Government, and Youth Sector Representatives from Barangays.
Part of the Mindanao Week of Peace 2017 Celebration is the recognition of the Peace Weavers Awardees wherein Peace Builders who has shown and/or given outstanding efforts towards the achieving Peace and Solidarity in Mindanao are nominated and are chosen from. For this year, Peace Weaver Awardees 2017 are Professor Noor Mohammad-Saada of the Academe, Lt. Gen. Carlito G Galvez, Jr. of the Security Sector, Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason of the Religious Sector, Mrs. Juanita M Cabugatan of the Women Sector and Mr. Nulhamdo Cegales of the Indigenous People Sector.
For Basilan, on the otherhand, Nagdilaab Foundation Inc., (NFI), a member-organization of ZABIDA, celebrated the Mindanao Week of Peace through a Walk-Marathon, a Zumba for Peace, and Mangrove Planting. Partner-Schools and Partner-Municipalities showed solidarity through their participation. (Deorenzie Frances Carreon/ZABIDA)