More than a hundred representatives of the various sectors of the society from Basilan gathered yesterday, 13 October 2018 (Saturday), at the Woodland Resort, Barangay Zambowood, Zamboanga City to discuss the multifarious peace and security issues including the recently enacted Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) due for ratification on 21 January 2019.
The multi-sectoral summit for peace was made possible by the Mahadjamah Development Initiative, Inc. (MDI), a civil society organization composed of individuals from Basilan whose common advocacy is achieving peace and development of their province.
Former ARMM Assemblyman Juni Rashed K. Ilimin, one of the Board Members of MDI, said that the summit is made possible with the help of the Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) leaders of Basilan. “We are hoping to have more discussions of this kind to bring the right information to the people, especially on the BOL, so that they will not be fooled by those spreading false information to serve individual’s vested interests contrary to the intent of the new law”, the former assemblyman stressed during the summit.
Participants of the summit came from the academe, youth, elders, religious, business, women, and some field commanders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) based in Basilan.
Together, they exchanged views and opinions during a workshop to identify the root causes of the past and present problems that have hampered the growth and human development in their province and on how to deal with the challenges to finally attain the elusive peace they have longed for.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesperson and Assistant Chief of the Unified Command Staff for Civil-Military Operations, deeply expressed the appreciation and gratitude of WestMinCom Chief Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega to the organizer and participants for timely initiation of the peace summit that exhibits the integrated efforts and multi-sectoral alliance towards peace.
“The AFP’s mandate is to protect the people from various security threats. We highly appreciate this kind of forum where we can personally discuss with you the various issues and concerns so that we can identify the role of each stakeholder to attain lasting peace in your respective community”, Lt Col Besana told the participants during his talk as their resource person.
Hafidz I. Kumar, a SK councilor of Basilan and the youth sector representative said, “The youth sector should know the issues on peace and [should] make concrete steps on how to attain them. This is for our future. The elders have already done their part to pave the way for us to be able to live in peace.”
Dr. Jessica B. Flores, one of the representatives from the academe, recognized the importance of the peace summit as a venue to prepare the people of the Bangsamoro and for them to appreciate what the BOL offers.“Let’s give BOL a chance as one of the means to be able to achieve peace in Basilan and the whole ARMM”, Dr. Flores said to express her support and optimism of the law’s ratification next year.