CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A leading Jesuit peace advocate in Mindanao urged all peace stakeholders to pool their
resources together to help the government in putting an end to the so-called Mindanao conflict and bring about genuine and lasting peace in the southern Philippines.
“It is a part of the challenges of the peace process—that we pool our resources together,” said Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D., during the Bishops, Governors and CSOs Conference on Conflict Transformation Towards Good Governance at the International Center for Peace (IC Peace) in Mindanao of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) at the weekend.
Ledesma, co-chairperson of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) that monitors and journeys together with the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), said that stakeholders, especially Mindanawons, should begin to ask themselves where they are in the peace process.
“We cannot afford to leave peace to the negotiators. It is time that we become part of the solution. We should now be proactive and have a common analysis and give solutions workable within our means,” he told this reporter in an earlier interview.
In his speech during the Conference, Ledesma, who also represented the Bishops-Ulamas Conference (BUC) of the Philippines, stressed that “stakeholders should work for peace.”
“In the situation we are in now, the government cannot win the peace process alone. Stakeholders also need to work for peace,” he said as he pointed out that “peace is also a restoration of relationships.”
He narrated that in the BUC, Muslims and Christians are united in bridging the relational gap apparent between the followers of Islam and Christianity.
“The peace dividend should not only be in terms of political agreement but most importantly a restoration of relationship as this affects how we live our lives here in Mindanao,” he stressed.
Ledesma, chairperson of the Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue (ECID) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), also pointed out “the need to explore ways of dialoguing for peace at the local and regional levels with partners and stakeholders in conflict situation.” Bong D. Fabe