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Peaceweaver Awardee Gen. Galvez Dedicates Award to 165 Fallen Heroes of Marawi City

The sturdy and valiant military officer of the second largest military camp in the country who led the 153 days battle in Marawi City against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inspired Maute group became emotional as he received the peace trophy that was awarded to him by the interreligious group last Sunday during the fourth day of the Mindanao Week of Peace Celebration.


“We thank you for this award given to us, we would like to dedicate this award to the 165 soldiers who died in Marawi City,” emotionally said LtGen Carlito G. Galvez, Jr the commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).


General Galvez is one of the five peaceweaver awardees for this year which is being awarded to individuals and groups by the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) and Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) who had significant contributions to peace in the community. The award is being given during the Mindanao Week of Peace Celebration. For this year it carries the theme “Sustaining the Journey for Peace” which runs from November 30 to December 6. 


“I remember the 153 days we fought in Marawi, because of our love to the people of Marawi and to solve the ongoing crisis we try to subdue the enemy,” he added.


Gen. Galvez is the 9th Commander of Wesmincom.  He is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985.  He has been with the military service for more than 34 years with all his command billets spent in conflict-affected areas of mainland Mindanao, Basilan and Sulu. 


He is an airborne, Intelligence and Scout Ranger qualified. His fields of specialty include the following: Combat and Intelligence Operations; Leadership Development, Counter-terrorism, Humanitarian Assistance, Strategic Management, Systems Dynamics Modeling, and Peace-building, Negotiation, and Mediation (“Rido” Settlement).


“As an awardee of this peace weaver award I will always commit myself towards peace and the solution of the Bangsamoro quest,” Gen. Galvez said.


Dr. Grace J. Rebollos, Vice President of PAZ said in her welcome remarks that everybody should take pride in bringing our thoughts of weaving to the context of building peace on our homeland of Mindanao. “We think of Marawi, Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Maguindanao and the many places that long for peace.” She said.


“In Mindanao, we constantly struggle to build our lives together in dreams that outlive us, in hopes of a dawn where our people awaken to happy days of calm to jubilant celebrations of peace and progress,” she added.


For Fr. Angel C. Calvo the lead convener of the ISP said the celebration of the peaceweaver awards has become a tradition among us as part of the celebration in the city. “Convinced as we are that peace is that common aspiration of our people and at the same time a common task and responsibility of all members of the community,”


The other four awardees were: Dr. Aboulkhair S. Tarason from Basilan who is the regional mufti of the Regional Darul Ifta of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); Prof. Noor M. Saada a peace builder; Mrs. Juanita M. Cabugatan a woman and community leader and Mr. Nulhamdo P. Cegales an Indigenous Peoples (IP) leader. (Albert F. Arcilla/Peace Advocates Zamboanga) 

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Mindanao Week of Peace on its 20th Year

“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)

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Zamboanga and Basilan Youth Transformed Into A “Broken-Healer”

Anchoring on this year’s theme of the Mindanao Week of Peace “Sustaining the Journey for Peace” some 60 Christian and Muslim youth leaders from Zamboanga City and Basilan Province had a three-day journey during the Regional Youth Peace Forum conducted last November 21-23 at Our Lady of the Pilar Retreat House, Mercedes this city.


The Regional Youth Peace Forum is a yearly joined activity of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP), Youth Solidarity for Peace (YSP) and the Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA) which aims to gather the youth leaders from this city and the neighboring island province to Basilan to discuss the current issues that are affecting these two culturally diverse communities especially the youth sectors.


“For this year the activity aims to discuss relevant societal issues affecting the young generation and their roles as peacebuilding and to undergo the initial sessions on healing for personal and social transformation by using the concept of peace tables,” Rosie France M. Montojo, PAZ Project Coordinator said.


Miriam L. Suacito, the Executive Director of the Nagdilaab Foundation (NFI) a Basilan based non-government organization and a member consortium of ZABIDA was the led facilitator of the three-day stay in the healing session. She brought the youthful participants who are coming from the school organizations and community-based organizations into the deeper understanding of Trauma and Healing.


During her series of sessions with them, she underscored the different types of trauma that the youth now days are encountering such as the sexual and physical abuses, bullying and emotional abuses. She also presented mechanism how to go over with the pains and trauma and to formally be healed.


This year the Mindanao Week of Peace is on its 20th-anniversary celebration and it is putting more emphasizing on the need to continue the journey towards the just and lasting peace amid unending violence in Mindanao.     


The youth peace forum capped with a planning session where the participants initiated doable activities related to healing intended for their communities especially for their fellow youth. (Albert F. Arcilla/Peace Advocates Zamboanga)   



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BBL and Federalism are Better Options to End Mindanao Conflict for Zamboanga CSOs

Around 75 members of the Zamboanga City sector groups see the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and Federalism as the solution to the century-old conflict in Mindanao. 

In a sector dialogue on BBL and Federalism vis-à-vis the threat of violent extremism and terrorism, organized by the Cotabato City-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), through its Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro (EnPold) project on Monday, October 23, they gathered the representatives from the academe, professionals, women, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Ulama and other religious leaders to present to them the fresh updates on the BBL and Federalism. The Zamboanga (ZABIDA) is the partner organization of IAG in the city in the implementation of the latter’s project.

Vandrazel M. Birowa, EnPold Project Coordinator said that “the project aims to provide a credible arena for political dialogue to build consensus and ownership of the political reforms and peace process as key to sustainable and inclusive peace,”

Resource Speaker Atty. Benedicto R. Bacani, IAG Executive Director challenged the participants to continue to understand the problem in Mindanao and find common ground in their respective communities and likewise help in the continuing dialogue.

One of the top agenda of the current administration is the shifting of the current unitary form government to federal form. In the federalism, it provides power to local government including the power to establish courts, implement business regulations and impose taxes while the unitary form of government, the decisions come from the central government in Manila.

With this current political set up, the areas outside Metro Manila especially the island province of Mindanao is left behind in terms of resources which some believe are the cause of armed struggle of the Moro people in the region.

“Federalism is possible with the President Duterte’s push and the change of constitution will happen within the six years,” Atty. Bacani said.

Fr. Angel C. Calvo, the Chairperson of the ZABIDA said that we should continue searching for the political formula to ends the Mindanao conflict.

“In Europe, there is no BBL but there are Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)…we need to pass the BBL this will help solve the governance in Mindanao and increase the self-governance of the Bangsamoro,” he said who is also the lead convener of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) based in Zamboanga City.

Sheikh Zayd Ocfemia president of the Assunah Foundation said that the federalism will not contradict with BBL in solving the Bangsamoro problem. “Both federalism and BBL are the solution to Bangsamoro problem,” he said.

For Prof. Ali Yacub, president of the Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates (GCCPBA) he wanted that the BBL should be approved first before the federal. “BBL is a hard work then we continue with it and see the outcome. Pass first the BBL because there will be a lot of opportunities in Mindanao,” he said adding that “federalism can be a good mother to BBL in the long run,”

IAG is also expected to visit the island provinces in the region to conduct the same activity. (Albert F. Arcilla/Peace Advocates Zamboanga) 

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