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The Citizen’s Peace Council Held its First Meeting

Posted on 14 April 2015 by cbcs_mike

[This article is sourced from media release on the first meeting of the member-conveners of the Peace Council recently formed to help in ironing out prevailing contentious issues on the GPH-MILF Talks and the Bangsamoro Basic Law through the courtesy of Ms Karen Tanada, Executive Director of Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute]

The Peace Council held their first meeting on April 6, 2015. Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Ambassador Howard Dee, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and youth leader Bai Rohaniza (Honey) Sumndad-Usman were joined by other co-convenors representing a broad swath of society. Religious leaders, business executives, youth leaders, civil society advocates, academics, and retired professionals, all active in national development, shared their expertise and experience. In the spirit of collegiality of peers, the conveners decided not to have a chair but to divide the work as needed.

The co-conveners included peace advocates, educators, economists and champions for social justice. The list includes: Archbishop Soc Villegas, Fr. Joel Tabora, Bishop Pablo David, Ms. Amina Rasul, Atty. Christian Monsod, Dean Sedfrey Candelaria, Dean Danilo Concepcion, Prof. Moner Bajunaid, Ms. Pat Sarenas, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, Dr. Cielito Habito, Mr. John Perrine, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, Bishop Tendero, Atty. Marlon Manuel, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta. Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, and Ramon del Rosario.

The meeting began with invocations by Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Professor Moner Bajunaid who both prayed for peace and goodwill.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. welcomed the group with the admonition that “the hard work begins after BBL is passed”. Honey Sumndad-Usman for her part shared the perspective of a young Muslim woman “whose future will be immensely influenced by the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was requested by the convenors to present an overview of the Council’s role and objectives. He emphasized that the group is an independent body committed to helping the general public understand what is at stake in the BBL, identify contentious issues, and help find a path towards reconciling divergent views.

The group acknowledged the daunting challenges the country faces in its pursuit of peace. The history and culture of the Muslim, centuries of neglect, deep-seated prejudices and biases, the unfortunate clash at Mamasapano, and the strident voices denouncing the BBL and calling for all-out war.

As an initial step, the Convenors agreed to focus on the controversial BBL articles and organize clusters around the following broad topics: 1) constitutionality and forms and powers of government, to be chaired by Chief Justice Davide; 2) Justice, including social justice, and human development, to be co-chaired by Ambassador Dee and Honey Sumndad-Usman; 3) Economy and Patrimony, to be chaired by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and 4) Human Security.

The Cluster Chairs with their expanded membership will hold in-depth sessions in the coming days. They are expected to conclude by April 18, when they will share their output and future activities in a plenary.

Ambassador Howard Dee closed the initial meeting of the Peace Council with these reminders: Our overarching goal is peace with justice and development in Muslim Mindanao: a political peace settlement that addresses the injustices inflicted on the Bangsamoro religious, cultural and political identity as a people, as after all, they had their political identity before there was a Philippine nation; the human development of the Bangsamoro people by restoring their human rights and freedom to reverse their economic and social marginalization which has resulted in their human poverty level that is about twice the national average; a process of cultural and spiritual healing to overcome the deep-seated prejudices that continue to divide our people. ###

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