Il progetto, che si svolge a Zamboanga, sull’isola di Mindanao, ha come obiettivo l’accoglienza delle donne vittime della droga e di altre forme di abuso. Per questo, l’associazione cattolica Emmaus vorrebbe avviare dei corsi della durata di una settimana, ripetuti ogni due mesi, per gruppi di circa trenta donne ciascuno riguardanti temi sociali, culturali, psicologici e, soprattutto, spirituali e formativi. Alla fine del corso, le donne saranno incoraggiate a restare presso l’Harmony Village (è il centro presso cui si svolgeranno i corsi), per diventare loro stesse animatrici dei nuovi corsi.
It was by chance that two Italian doctor experts in acupuncture, Paola Poli, president of AGOM and Carlo Moiraghi, vice president of AGOM and president of ALMA school of acupuncture in Milan, offered to Silsilah the possibility to serve our people in Zamboanga City for two weeks. They left Zamboanga on August 20, 2016 and now, after a few days, we are happy to share with friends and our readers of OASIS NEWS around the world our reflection and the new challenge that we have taken as a new beginning to serve through the Center for Holistic Health Care (CHHC), one program of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement based in Harmony Village.
For a very touching coincidence we were already planning to develop the acupuncture service through the CHHC by sending some of our staff for a special training outside Zamboanga, and the providence arrived though the two doctors from Italy. The two doctors were our guests in Harmony Village for two weeks. They accepted the challenge to train six of our staff and serve the people of Zamboanga according to our requests. After informing the proper authority of this plan we invited the two doctors with a team of the six staff/members of Silsilah to go to the city jail of Zamboanga where, at present, there are about two thousand five hundred inmates, majority of them men. The Silsilah staff gave on regular basis, three times a week, formation to the inmates. We know the great need for them to be helped and we gave the priority to them. It was a very friendly atmosphere where inmates and security guards availed of the same service together. The doctors and the team were able to serve hundreds of people in the city jail working hard in the spirit of mercy. It was a simple gesture of love and many were cured. The two Italian doctors and the team also served many at the Zamboanga Medical Center, at the City Health and the Center for Holistic Health Care in Harmony Village.
At the end of the experience our team developed confidence and expertise to practice alone the acupuncture and each received a certificate from the two Italian doctors. We also gave the doctors Certificates of Appreciation. The two doctors expressed joy to find in Silsilah a very good atmosphere of friendship expressing their satisfaction of contributing to the training of the Silsilah team which now has the responsibility to continue the mission of acupuncture to serve those in need.
The two doctors were able to visit the areas destroyed by the siege in 2013 in Masepla, Mampang, Paniran extension and St. Catalina/Padayon center. Silsilah is present in all these places offering different programs, including kindergarten education for the Muslim and Christian children.
We gave to the two doctors the opportunity to visit Santa Cruz Island where Silsilah has an elementary school and to meet the mayor of Zamboanga City, Hon. Isabelle Climaco Salazar. The mayor was happy to see them and expressed her gratitude on behalf of the city for the service done to the people of Zamboanga.
One common reflection and commitment during the closing program and sharing with the two doctors was that we now have a responsibility to continue and for us this will be taken as a new beginning going on regular basis in some communities in the spirit of mercy. There are so many who need and this service is an additional one that Silsilah started with the hope that many will benefit and we can train more people to continue this mission. We never stop to explore possibilities to express our mercy to others and in doing this we express our gratitude to God who put in our hearts the desire to serve and to love. This is the dialogue of Silsilah: love for all to build a new society where we can call each other brothers and sisters.
The missionary is the founder of Silsilah, a movement for interreligious dialogue in Zamboanga. The formation of young Christians and Muslims open hearts of even more traditionalist Muslims. In 25 years, over 2 thousand young people become active leaders in their communities.
Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – “Spreading a culture of dialogue between Christians and Muslims means educating young people to get to the bottom of their faith and encourage them to work together for the good of their communities”, says Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Zamboanga (Mindanao) and founder of Silsilah, a movement for interreligious dialogue speaking to AsiaNews. Active since 1984, over the years Silsilah has become a beacon for Muslims and Christians in Mindanao, for forty years, victims of the war between Islamic rebels and the Philippine military.
Fr. D’Ambra says: “After years of meetings with Muslim and Christian leaders, we realized that our task was not simply to speak of dialogue, but way to respond in a concrete to the reality around us.”
In 1986 Silsilah kicked started the Summer Course of Muslim Christian Dialogue to form young leaders of both faiths. For 25 years, the summer courses are organized every year between April and May and the classes continued even in during the most difficult for Christians in Mindanao, such as the murder in Zamboanga of Fr Salvatore Carzedda (PIME) in 1992.
“Over the years we have trained more than 2 thousand young people – says Fr D’Ambra – who now work as a leaders in various areas of the island, in turn creating groups and initiatives between the two religions. ” On 20 September, the movement opened a center for dialogue in Manila, in the district of Quiapo home to the Nazarene sanctuary and the Golden Mosque, symbols of the presence of the two religions in the archipelago.
In Mindanao the initiatives of the Summer Course has also affected areas with Muslim majority hostile to Christians and characterized by ongoing violence. In Basilan, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists, a few months ago a relationship between the bishop and high Islamic authorities began. They are working to address concrete problems of the city, led by some Silsilah graduates.
“We teach our youth the dialogue and respect for nature – said the missionary – explaining the passages of the Bible and the Qur’an that speak of these matters.” In Balun, a protected area in the center of the island, Christians and Muslims, have joined forces to block mining in the area. With the help of Silsilah volunteers they have collected signatures throughout Mindanao. In January 2010, more than 10 thousand people demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Manila government against pollution and destruction of protected areas.
The concrete proposal of Silsilah and its work with the new generations has drawn even the most reluctant and conservative Muslim leaders to the movement. Recently the movement translated the letter sent to 138 Muslim scholars to Benedict XVI in 2006 to seek common ground for collaboration between Christians and Muslims into the local language. Fr. D’Ambra noted that the publication of the document, together with the concrete testimony of Silsilah among the Muslims of Mindanao, many Islamic leaders began to question whether their communities are open dialogue with Christians.
“The letter is signed by many Islamic leaders of the world – he stresses – and this has also pushed even the most entrenched characters to consider the possibility of interreligious dialogue, love of God, love of neighbor, All content common to both faiths. ” In a meeting with more than 500 ulema that took place recently in Zamboanga, a prominent Islamic leader, who has never had direct relations with Silsilah, praised the movement citing passages on the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the Koran.
The priest said the opening of Islamic leaders is possible if dialogue is transformed from a simple strategy in the form of spirituality on which to base one’s life. For nearly 20 years through the Emmaus group the movement has proposed chastity and community life to young people as an opportunity to give one’s life to interfaith dialogue. The proposal is spreading even among Muslim women (Muslim women for dialogue and peace), who take a vow of chastity, and without leaving their families, begin the same spiritual journey of serious dialogue with God and neighbor. (SC)
GOVERNOR Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) strongly condemned the killing of Canadian John Ridsdel by the Abu Sayyaf bandits on Monday, April 25. The Abu Sayyaf bandits beheaded Ridsdel on Monday after their ransom demand was not met. The bandits have reportedly demanded ransom for P300 million for the release of the victim. The decapitated head of the victim was recovered late Monday in the village of Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.
Hataman described the killing of Ridsdel by the Abu Sayyaf bandits as an act against humanity. “As a nation, we have to rise against this horrendous act of terrorism. Our faith and our humanity demand that we collectively and strongly condemn this act of terrorism,” Hataman said He said the incident is tragic and “as peace-loving Muslims of Mindanao, as Filipinos tired of senseless deaths and violence, we stand against this.” “With heavy hearts, we express our condolences to the family of Mr. John Ridsdel. Our thoughts are with you in this dark moment of sorrow and grief,” he said. “Like you, we also hope that the reign of terror on the island provinces of Mindanao will face its end the soonest as we pray that justice is done,” he added.
Ridsdel, who is from Calgary, Alberta, was kidnapped along with three others, a fellow Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipina, on September 21, 2015 at a resort in the Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.
Yesterday, February 7, 2016, was the culminating program of a week-long activity of solidarity and dialogue a movement for love and peace by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement with Fr. Sebastiano D’ Ambra, PIME, convenor United Nations Interfaith-Harmony Partners- Zamboanga (UNI-HP-Z). The movement has been going on every year in Zamboanga City being attended and joined by different faiths and religions, government offices and the religious sector, in search for total peace and love among neighbors and religions through dialogue and spiritual approach. The General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution in October 20, 2010, because the community of nations felt an “imperative need for a worldwide dialogue for peace through the spiritual approach.”
In Zamboanga City, different religious leaders from different faiths joined together for a continued dialogue in search of peace, harmony and love. The movement in Zamboanga is spearheaded by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement (SDM) which started many years back and became a national movement supported by the National Government when President B.S. Aquino III signed into Law Republic Act No. 10525, declaring the first week of February every year as as World Interfaith Harmony week and enjoined all government office to join the search for peace and harmony among all faiths through spiritual approach and dialogue. Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar also sponsored a city council resolution when she was still a city councilor supporting the move of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement for harmony and peace in Zamboanga City.
Today in Zamboanga City there are almost 30 government, non-government organizations, private organizations and civic associations and religious groups who are active supporters and partners of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony week celebration. These groups contributed in their own way the search for harmony and peace in Zamboanga City, though constant dialogues in a spiritual approach. The Muslim Council of Ulamas, and some Catholic and Christian leaders are also active supporters of the interfaith movement.
In 2014, the World Interfaith Harmony Week (WHIW) brought the Zamboanga partners led by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement to win the First Prize for World Harmony Week activity sponsored by H.M. King Abdullah II of the kingdom of Jordan. “The prize will be awarded to those events or texts that are judged to have been most successful in promoting Interfaith Harmony and imparting religious understanding”.
PIME’s Fr. Sebastiano D’ Ambra, the spiritual force behind the Sisilah Dialogue Movement (SDM) is enjoining everyone in Zamboanga City to join him in looking for a lasting peace in Zamboanga City through constant dialogue and built up trust and harmony. Right now the SDM is represented by the following civic and religious leaders in Zamboanga City, like, Atty Arsenio L. Gonzales Jr. coordinator for the Christians. Atty. Mohamad Taha S. Arakama, coordinator for the Muslims and Elizabeth L. Solis, EDC, Secretary. These are the prime movers of the dialogue movement for peace and harmony in Zamboanga City.
Scoop: Indeed Zamboanga City needs a dialogue for peace and harmony among its people. The city is on the heels of unstable peace and order situation, because the city’s peaceful citizens are constantly haunted by rumors of lawless elements movement out to sow disaster and chaos in the city even today and information reveals that those who wanted to disturbed the tranquility and peace of the city are allegedly Moro lawless elements. We needed dialogue and the freedom to live peacefully and harmoniously. Perhaps it is time to reflect both government forces and rebel factions. Agree or disagree.
On Tuesday three suspects behind local kidnapping incidents in Baliguian, Zamboanga del Norte were arrested by the local Police. They were identified as Rudy Lim, Alerin Lim and Jolo Lim. The police said the suspects have a standing warrant of arrest issued by presiding Laarni Dajao of Regional Trial Court Branch 27 based in Siocon town, Zamboanga del Norte for kidnapping with serious illegal detention.
The court also recommended no bail for the suspects who were detained at Liloy Police Station.
Police are also investigating possible participation of the suspects in the previous kidnapping incidents that occurred in the west coast border of Zamboanga City, three towns away from Baliguian.
Monsigñor Crisologo Manongas, administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, said Papal Nuncio Guiseppe Pinto, the Apostolic Nunciature to the Philippines, will lead the installation of Bishop Romulo Dela Cruz on May 14, 2014. Manongas said the installation ceremony will be held at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion. Dela Cruz, 66, was named by Pope Francis as this city’s archbishop last March 15.
Prior to his appointment, Dela Cruz served as bishop of Kidapawan City since June 2008, replacing Bishop Romulo Valles when the latter was named archbishop of this city. Valles was made archbishop of Davao City last 2012 and since then Zamboanga did not have an archbishop. Dela Cruz had also served as bishop of nearby Basilan province from 1988 and of Antique in the Visayas from 2001 until his appointment as bishop of Kidapawan.
He was born on June 24, 1947 in Iloilo but at an early age he and his parents migrated to Mindanao. Dela Cruz is currently a member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media and vice chairman of the Episcopal Office on Women. Dela Cruz’s appointment is Vatican’s second major act this year for the church in Mindanao. The first one was last month wherein Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo was elevated and named as member of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals, the eighth Filipino to be named to the high office. Dela Cruz, as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, will have supervision over the Prelature of Isabela in Basilan, Prelature of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo in Sulu.
Dear friends, we would like to request for your support to the statement
(below) calling for the immediate humanitarian ceasefire and dialogue in Zamboanga City, Philippines. Please sign up and help circulate. Thank you very much!
*Mindanao PeaceWeavers-MPW* (Sect:Initiatives for International
Dialogue-IID,Mobile: (+63)09177247579; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*DECLARE A HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE IN ZAMBOANGA CITY, NOW!*
A Petition Campaign in Support for Dialogue, ****
Humanitarian Action and Ceasefire**
*WE, THE UNDERSIGNED PEACE ADVOCATES, CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS AND CONCERNED
CITIZENS, SERIOUSLY APPEAL IN CALLING FOR DIALOGUE and THE IMMEDIATE
DECLARATION OF HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE in the conflict-affected barangays in Zamboanga City to address the standoff since September 9, 2013.
Specifically, we urge H.E. Benigno Simeon Aquino III, MNLF Chair Nur
Misuari, Mayor Isabelle Climaco, Sec Teresita Deles, and the Organization
of Islamic Conference (OIC) to heed the following calls :
1. We call for an immediate stop to the firefight and a prompt and
orderly redeployment of forces – both the MNLF and the AFP to address the
alarming evacuee situation;
2. We call on both parties to immediately delineate a *humanitarian
corridor* where civilians and injured combatants may be safely assisted
with their humanitarian needs;
3. Generate public support towards broad humanitarian action by allowing
full access and the entry of humanitarian groups to complement existing
efforts of the local government, DSWD, and civil society in Zamboanga City;
4. We call for both parties to dialogue and allow for sufficient space for
peaceful negotiations to take place;
5. We strongly recommend that those who are responsible for the deaths,
destruction of properties and other human rights violations will be held
6. We appeal to the Philippine Government and its Office on the
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to translate its policy
in addressing the fate of the MNLF peace process and their legitimate
7. Lastly, we call for the intervention of the Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC) in resolving this issue, sustaining the role they have
long-fulfilled in ensuring the hopes for peace in Mindanao.
We hope and pray that this matter is resolved quickly, justly and
peaceably, and that equanimity prevails in the restoration of peace and
order in Zamboanga City and its surrounds.
Declare a Zamboanga City-wide ceasefire now! Spare the civilians from
armed hostilities! No to armed action and militarization in Zamboanga City!
INITIAL SIGNATORIES :
*MINDANAO PEACEWEAVERS (MPW)*
*Agri-Aqua Development Coalition (AADC)*
*Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan (AKKAPKA)*
*Alliance of Progressive Labor – Davao Region*****
*Ateneo School of Government*
*Coalition of Social Development Organizations – Sth Cotabato (CSDO-SC)*
*Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)*****
*GZO Peace Institute*
*Kabataan Consortium, Inc.*
*Kalimudan Foundation, Inc – Marawi City*
*Kameritanan ne Erumanen Menuvu (KEM)*
*Katilingban para sa Kalambuan, Inc. *
*Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation*
*Luna Legal Resource Center, Inc.*
*Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies – Southern Phils Educational
Cooperative Center (MASS-SPECC)*
*Makabayan Pilipinas -Mindanao*
*Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)
Mindanao Congress of NGOs and NGIs (MINCON)*
*Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Women Development, Inc (MIPWED)*
*Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)*****
*Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)*
*Nagdilaab Foundation, Inc. (NFI)*
*Pambansang Kilusang Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA-Mindanao)*
*Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)*
*Partido Lakas Masa (PLM- Mindanao)*
*Pax Christi Institute*
*Peace Advocates Zamboanga Foundation, Inc. (PAZ)*
*Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)*
*Reach Out to Others Foundation, Inc. (ROOF)*
*Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)*
*Timuay Justice and Governance*
*Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA) *
*Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)*
*Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC-SEA)*
*Acehnese Civil Society Task Force (ACSTF-Aceh)*
*Child Rights Coalition Asia Secretariat*
*Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC-Nepal)*
*Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG -Myanmar)*
*KKSP Foundation, Educatn & Info Center for Child Rights (Indonesia)*
*Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP-Asia)*
*The Life Skills Development Foundation (Thailand)*
*Women’s Initiatives Network for Peace (WIN PEACE -Myanmar)*
*Women’s Organizations Network (WON -Myanmar)*
*World without WARs and without Violence*
Mindanao CSOs Statement****
September 9, 2013****
CALL FOR SOBRIETY, DIALOGUE, NOT ARMED ACTION****
We, the undersigned civil society groups, express our deepest expressions
of concern, prayers and support for the innocent civilians caught in the
ongoing crossfire between elements associated with the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) and government security forces in Zamboanga City
that unfolded before us this Monday, September 9. We also likewise extend
our deep condolences to the families of the armed actors themselves – the
police, military authorities, and MNLF fighters felled during the incident.*
WE HOPE AND PRAY that this matter is resolved quickly, justly and
peaceably, and that equanimity prevails in the restoration of peace and
order in Zamboanga City and its surrounds. We express pity for the growing
thousands of displaced evacuees now streaming into safe havens in
Zamboanga, wherever they can find them. We call on all concerned to avoid
knee-jerk reactions that only feed into the distrust and discord we all
want to avoid. We encourage all involved to explore dialogue in resolving
whatever differences and grievances they may bear.****
WE ARE SADDENED that such a provocative event happened on the eve of the
slated and historic 10-day talks between the Government of the Philippines
(GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. This will be the longest ever continuous meeting in the history
of these talks and deserves our utmost support. Nevertheless we also expect
that there will always be those displeased with the promising progress of
these talks who will try to stop or derail such gains for their own aims
and ends. We challenge all stakeholders not to be drawn into such
diversions. Instead, let us learn from such events and stay our course of
peace, strong and resolute in our shared vision of a more united and
progressing Bangsamoro benefiting all.****
WE APPEAL to all involved in making peace work in our beleaguered region
to patiently and consistently find ways in establishing structured
opportunities towards meaningful inclusion of other stakeholders in the
peace process. The ongoing standoff in Zamboanga City between the MNLF and
the government forces may indicate “imperfections” in the peace process,
but there are legitimate issues that need to be addressed with a sense of
just finality in the seemingly complicated peace process of the MNLF with
the government. But we still denounce the very act of resorting to an
armed action just to send its message across at the risk of lives, limbs,
and security of innocent citizens.****
WE REMAIN ENCOURAGED that despite this event, both the GPH and the MILF
have expressed trust, confidence and support heading into the 40th round of
these exploratory talks. This is the spirit that we believe should be
engendered not only in the nascent Bangsamoro but through-out the country
as well. Let us continue to support dialogue as a primary tool for peace
building. Let us not allow the guns to drown out the voices we need to
hear, the ones who call for peace. These are the voices that truly speak
for us, driving our singular struggle, quest and vision for true and
lasting peace in Mindanao. ****
*GRACE C. JIMENO – REBOLLOS*
*”The duty of privilege is absolute integrity”*
* – John O’Donohue**
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) calls for calm and sobriety amid the atrocities perpetrated since early yesterday morning in Zamboanga City by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members associated with Nur Misuari.
We pray for the safety of innocent civilians taken as hostages by these armed rebels. The government is doing its best to restore peace and order in Zamboanga City and to hold this MNLF group associated with Nur Misuari accountable for their actions.
We condemn acts of violence perpetrated by spoilers out to derail the people’s journey to a just and lasting peace that would soon bring jobs, infrastructure programs, and quality education to the Bangsamoro people, if not the whole of Mindanao. To them we ask, how can you demand to hoist your flag in the name of peace while brazenly bearing arms and hurting innocent civilians?
We condemn not only the armed aggression sanctioned by some leaders of the MNLF-Misuari wing, but also its malicious campaign to mislead the public and spur their members to rebel with their insinuation that the Philippine Government already terminated the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) that the MNLF led by Nur Misuari signed with the GPH in 1996.
The Philippine government stands firm in its quest for peaceful solutions to the conflict in Mindanao through inclusive dialogue and formal peace negotiations.
We seek the people’s support and prayers as our security forces and local governments work together to restore peace and order in Zamboanga City.
The following are some facts on the real status of the GPH-MNLF peace process, disproving the allegations of the MNLF-Misuari group:
1. The Philippine Government did not terminate the 1996 GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. What the government intended was the completion of the almost six-year Tripartite Review Process on the implementation of the 1996 FPA, to pave the way for the Agreement’s full implementation.
2. The Aquino Administration has continuously engaged the MNLF through the GPH-MNLF-OIC Tripartite Review Process, since the Administration’s start last July, 2010. The process has been moving with one (1) formal Tripartite meeting, two (2) Ad Hoc High-Level Group meetings, several informal technical meetings and consultations since the start of this Administration. In all these meetings, Nur Misuari personally attended and participated in the process that led to the GPH-MNLF’s 42 consensus points as inputs to the Legislative Agenda.
3. The OIC-PCSP has already scheduled the convening of the 5th Meeting of the GPH-MNLF-OIC Tripartite Review on the Implementation of the 1996 FPA on Monday, 16 September 2013 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is for this that the Chair of the OIC-PCSP, Indonesian Ambassador Hassan Kleib visited the country last week for top-level consultations with the GPH in Manila on 5 September 2013, and the MNLF groups in Davao City on 6 September 2013, in preparation for the meeting.
4. The proposed completion of the Tripartite Review Process was thoroughly discussed and clearly understood by the OIC-PCSP as shown by the letter to the OIC Secretary General of Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr. Marty Natalegawa, which the Indonesian Ministry shared with us, which states that “the GPH conveyed its assurances that in the case of the closure of the Tripartite Implementation Review Process, GPH will continue to engage relevant parties of the MNLF, through existing mechanism, to find a just and comprehensive political solution for the issue of the Southern Philippines.”
5. On the development aspect, the Philippine Government has been engaging the MNLF under the PAMANA program that covered former MNLF bases that were transformed into Peace and Development Communities as beneficiaries, and provided assistance for community infrastructure needs.
6. The ARMM Regional Government on the other hand, has likewise signed an agreement with the MNLF through ARMM-MNLF Cooperation for Peace and Development on 8 November 2012, which was personally witnessed by Nur Misuari. The MOA provides for delivery of development projects and programs to benefit their communities. More than 50 senior MNLF leaders signed a resolution of commitment on 1 September 2013, as partner of the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to help alleviate the economic status and welfare of the MNLF communities through socio-economic projects in Mindanao and affirming their continued support to the 1996 FPA.
Clearly, the armed group that staged these violent attacks in Zamboanga City had genuine peace farthest from their minds. The group’s willful intent to misunderstand and misrepresent the real status of the peace process was very clear. We call on Chairman Misuari to rein in his followers, and listen to the clamor of the Bangsamoro people for the advancement of a comprehensive peace agreement and the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, to which the Philippine government remains committed to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
– See more at: http://opapp.gov.ph/mnlf/news/statement-secretary-teresita-quintos-deles-attack-zamboanga-city-mnlf-group-associated-nur#sthash.hmbNtbwJ.nafgBWPZ.dpuf
A Catholic priest was among some 250 civilians who were taken hostage by rebel Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga on Monday.
Monsignor Chris Manongas, administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, said Father Michael Ufana was taken by MNLF gunmen from his parents’ house.
“They were not able to leave. The [MNLF] took over the house. That’s how it happened,” he said.
The Mindanao Human Rights Action Center corroborated the report, citing an eyewitness who saw the taking of Ufana. Police officials confirmed Ufana was taken hostage.
Another Catholic priest, whose name was not released for security reasons, was also trapped in one of the villages taken over by the MNLF.
Manongas told ucanews.com he was able to talk with the second priest over the phone. “He is inside the church with some refugees. He said they have no food and water,” said Manongas.
“[We are] having difficulty penetrating the place because it is cordoned off by the military. It is very dangerous because the fighting is around the church.”
Thousands of refugees, most of them Muslims from five villages taken over by MNLF fighters, have sought shelter in three churches in the area.
“We are helping. We are not afraid. Our social action center here is working hard. We are even putting our lives in danger just to be able to help these people,” Manongas said.
“We condemn in the highest form this violent attempt to take over the city by the MNLF. We call on them to please listen to the voice of sanity,” he added.
Heavy exchanges of gunfire continued on Tuesday as the standoff entered its second day. Rocket-propelled grenades and mortars were fired on the village of Talon-Talon.
As of 3pm on Tuesday several houses in the village of Santa Barbara were burning. The city government said four firefighters tried to get into the area but were advised by the military to wait for clearance.
Offices were earlier closed while city streets emptied. A curfew was declared last night across the city and in the nearby province of Basilan.
The death toll currently stands at six, with 24 wounded. President Benigno Aquino has said there is no need to declare a state of emergency in Zamboanga City, given the presence of government security forces.
The MNLF is demanding independence from the Philippine government.