August 14, 2008

Peace for Peace

Temptation in the wilderness

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf. But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone.’ (Luke 4:1-4)

We are once again caught in the middle of another challenge with regard to our desire to find a permanent peace here in Mindanao. The recent protest against the signing of MoA on Bangsamoro Juridical Entity rocks and challenges the effort of everybody here in Mindanao in our peace effort. We are not against the idea of giving rights to our Muslim brothers and sisters of their ancestral domain. It is their right and privilege as Filipinos. In general, what the people is protesting against the signing of MoA is the failure of the government panel to fully consult all those who will be affected stakeholders of the MoA, including Zamboanga City. We want transparency. But let’s make it clear, we are against the process the MoA was formulated. Part of attaining genuine peace is to fully consult all stakeholders that will be affected by the signing of the MoA.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, we pray to the Lord for mutual trust, openness and understanding. We hope that through our prayer today, we may be able to attain the peace that eludes us for decades already. As we go through our own desert experience these days, we pray that all of us may not lose our focus and be tempted to give up to our dream of lasting peace in Mindanao. Our disunity with regard to BJE is not a religious issue but a political one. It is not Christians against Muslims, and so we pray today that our focus may not be lost … We want peace in Mindanao. And so today, we recommit ourselves today for peace. We pray that the war in Northern Cotabato to stop and possible arm struggle. We pray that the GRP-MILF peace panel may persevere and to listen to all stakeholders and come up with a better MoA generally acceptable to all Filipinos – Muslims and Christians alike and consistent to the spirit of justice, fairness, and respect. We pray that all of us may desist from spreading unnecessary destructive comments against one another for it is against peace. We are all brothers and sisters, Muslims and Christians alike. We are all Filipinos hoping and dreaming for peace. We don’t live on bread alone, but we live on peace with one another. Peace is more than food for us. It is our dream.

And so today, we pray together, as one family and community. We want to tell Zamboanga, Mindanao and the rest of our country that we are for unity and not for division. We are for solidarity and not for alienation. We are for peace.

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