By Roy Lagarde
Top Christian and Muslim leaders said it’s time to give ‘peace education’ a chance in the country’s schools.
In a peace declaration made in Rome on Sept. 16, the religious leaders affirmed the lack of structured program of peace education and recommended that such should become part of the curriculum.
“We call for inclusion of peace education at all levels in our schools, madaris, and communities,” part of the declaration read.
“We need to build a culture of peace based on personal integrity, respect for human rights, inter-cultural dialogue, care for the environment, peaceful coexistence, and eradication of poverty,” it stated.
The declaration was signed by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi, Dr. Said Zamahsari Salendab, Secretary General of the Hayatul Ulama in Mindanao, and Dr. Ustadz Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, Executive Director of the Regional Darul Ifta-ARMM.
Other signatories are Dr. Mauro Garofalo, Head of International Relations for the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio (CSE) and Mona Liza Pangan, a resident of the besieged city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
Current efforts at writing “a more inclusive history of Mindanao” that explore the root causes of conflict and depicts significant event and personalities from Muslim and indigenous people communities, they said, is a welcome development.
The declaration was the result of an informal dialogue on the peace process in Mindanao convened by the CSE in the presence of Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
They also called on for the promotion of peace through interreligious dialogue, stressing the role of young people in clearing misunderstanding about religious.
This dialogue, according to them, must move from the top to the grassroots levels of society.
“We commit ourselves to reach out to our youth, who will be the future leaders of our Mindanao communities. They have so much to contribute towards building our communities with a renewed vision of Mindanao as our shared homeland,” they said.
They also renewed their appeal for the legislators to “expedite” the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will govern the creation of a new autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines.
The proposed measure has been delayed since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2014.
“An approved BBL shall provide a positive alternative to violent extremism,” they said. CBCPNews