Cebu Muslims pray for success of govt-MILF peace pact

Posted on October 16, 2012

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WITH the signing of the preliminary peace agreement between the government panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) still three hours away, Cebu-based Muslims held their own prayers for the historical event.

At least 23 Cebu-based employees of the National Commission of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Visayas regional office in Cebu City held one such prayer ceremony ahead of the signing in Malacañang.

Office Imam and Islamic Interpreter Ustaj Ali Mangorsi recited a verse from the Qur’an about achieving peace.
Those present said they hoped the agreement would signal the end of the decades-long conflict in Mindanao.

“Tumanda na tayo sa gulo. Hindi na tayo nakapag-aral dahil sa gulo. Ang mga naiipit ay palaging mga walang kinalaman na mga sibilyan (We have gotten old with the war. We were not able to go to school because of the war. It is always the innocent civilians who are caught in between),” Visayas regional Director Malo Manonggiring told fellow Muslim government employees.

“The success of this agreement is the success of the Moro people, even the Christians as this will lead to understanding diversity of faith in this country,” Manonggiring added.

Before the prayer ceremony, Pacol Batugan, NCMF Visayas Peace and Conflict Resolution Officer called on the public to join Filipino Muslims in praying for the success of the agreement.

“We ask our brothers and sisters, both Muslims and non-Muslims to help us pray that this will be a start of peace in our beloved Mindanao,” Batugan said.

The Peace and Conflict Resolution Division of NCMF is a newly formed division that aims to help settle rifts involving Muslims at the grassroots level.

While a small minority of Muslims remain skeptical on the latest peace agreement, legal officer Catherine Gunang said majority of those they consulted support the Aquino government’s efforts to achieve peace in Mindanao.

Asked about the total population of Muslims in Cebu and the Visayas region, Batugan said the nature of a Muslim’s transient life makes it difficult to determine the exact number.

“Muslims usually stay in a place for economic purposes. Say, their business is earning, they tend to settle in that place for a long time,” he said.

Others migrate to another city to directly supervise the education of their children since classes are mostly interrupted by the peace and order situation in Mindanao.

“But these Muslims always have in their heart the intention to go back to their birthplace when they deemed it safe to return,” Batugan said.

The preliminary peace agreement was the first major step toward a final settlement that grants minority Muslims in the Mindanao broad autonomy in exchange for ending the decades-long violence in the island.

A product of 15 years of negotiations facilitated by neighboring Malaysia, the agreement sets in motion a roadmap to a final document that the MILF and the government plans to clinch before President Benigno Aquino III’s term ends in 2016. Correspondent Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua with an Inquirer report

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