UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter

Updates from Pakigdait CC- Mindanao

Pakigdait CC Leads the 27th International Day of Peace

LANAO DEL NORTE, Mindanao -- The civil society organisations of Iligan City and Lanao del Norte gave recognition to a member of the peace panel, Prof. Rudy Rodil, at the celebration of the International Day of Peace (IDP). The network of civil society organisations of Iligan City and Lanao del Norte, through the initiative of Pakigdait, Inc. CC-- in partnership with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD-UK)-- commemorated the Peace Day on September 21, 2008 at the Balay Mindanaw Peace Centre in Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City.

According to Mr. Musa Sanguila, Pakigdait CC leader and Chairperson for the Civil Society Organisations of Lanao del Norte Partnership for Peace and Development (CSOLNPPD), the major challenge encountered in planning the celebration was the safety and security of Prof. Rudy Rodil whom the civil society awarded with a special tribute during the celebration for his dedication and contribution to peace in Mindanao.

Among other guests present in the celebration and awarding were: Ms. Jo Andot – Programme Manager for the ACT for Peace Programme, Mr. Carino V. Antequisa – Country Accompanier for CAFOD-UK, Ms. Jane Bernardo – the Chairperson for the Civil Society Organisations Forum for Peace, Ms. Regina Salvador-Antequisa – the Secretary-General for the CSOLNPPD, members of the civil organizations in Iligan and Lanao del Norte, and Cagayan de Oro media members.

We Continue Interfaith & Cultural Solidarity Amid Armed Conflict in Lanao

KOLAMBUGAN, LANAO DEL NORTE, MINDANAO-- It was a moving moment. Christian leaders waited outside the town’s main Mosque in celebration of solidarity with Muslims on the last day of Ramadhan. Muslims were greeted outside the Mosque after they completed their worship (Sambayang) by the Christian leaders with offering of warm embrace, flowers, garlands, and fruits. It highlighted the celebration of the Eid’l Fit’r, the feast signifying the end of the month-long fasting.

The Christian community led by Rev. Fr. Reggie R. Quijano (Parish Priest of Kolambugan and Chairman of the Board of Pakigdait, Incorporated), Sr. Jen-Jen Aligdo, RSM, Hon. Lorenzo V. Manigos (Vice-Mayor of Kolambugan), Sr. Helen Liboon (Directress for the Holy Cross High School), Ms. Jovy Abesola (Principal of the Holy Cross High School), and teachers joined our Muslim brothers and sisters in this special occasion.

The Muslim community led by Datu Tannie Marambon warmly received the Christian community in a spirit of understanding and unity and celebrated the most special day in the life of Muslims in a feast where Maranao food and delicacies were shared by the Muslims and the Christians. The celebration affirmed that the destruction brought about by the August 18 MILF attack to the municipality has not conquered the peace between Muslims and Christians. Peace ultimately reigns among the people of Kolambugan.

Since 2001, Pakigdait CC has been conducting interfaith dialogues and multi-cultural activies. The “Panagtagbo sa Panaghiusa ug Kalinaw” (Coming to Meet for Unity and Peace) – the annual theme of the Ramadhan greetings was initiated by Pakigdait. It has grown to be the venue to foster unity, reconciliation and conflict resolution in the war-ravaged and conflict-ridden towns of Kolambugan and Kauswagan.

URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.