Lanao town Celebrates Peace Week

Map of Lanao del Norte showing the location of...Image via Wikipedia
A March 23, 2011 press release prepared by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Townspeople on Tuesday gathered in Kausawagan, Lanao del Norte to remember the war that has brought them painful memories, and celebrate convergence of grassroots efforts in building peace in Mindanao.
Kauswagan was one of the towns that suffered the violence brought by the “all out war” in March 2000 declared by then Pres. Joseph Estrada against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The people will never forget the dreadful past, but they are ready to face the challenges of peace in the future together. Bringing this to light, representatives from various sectors, such as women, indigenous peoples, youth, local government, religious, academe, farmers, local and international non-government groups, commemorated the 10th Kauswagan Week of Peace or Panagtagbo sa Kalinaw (Convergence for Peace).
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles delivered a message in a simple program held at the Kauswagan Central Elementary School to culminate the week-long celebration.
She was joined by Lanao del Norte Gov. Khalid Dimaporo, former Cong. Abdulla Dimaporo, Vice Gov. Irma Umpa Ali, Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado, Musa Sanguila, executive director of Pakigdait, Inc.; Col. Leo Cresento Ferrer, 601st Brigade commander; and Asst. Sec. Jehanne Mutin-Mapupuno of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
Deles lauded the collaborative efforts of all sectors in pushing for peace in many communities in Mindanao. “Hindi tumitigil ang mga taga-Mindanao sa paggawa ng paraan, at pagtutulungan, para makamit ang kapayapaan (The people of Mindanao do not stop in creating ways and helping each other to achieve peace).”
“Ang kapayapaan ay patuloy na binubuo at isinasabuhay sa maraming pamayanan, at dahil dito, masasabi natin na sa ating mga puso, nagtatagumpay na tayo sa ating pagtataya sa kapayapaan (Peace is being continuously built and lived by many communities, and because of this, we can say that in our hearts, we have succeeded in pushing for it),” she added.
Gov. Dimaporo, on the other hand, expressed his support to the peace and development initiatives of civil society organizations. “We would also like to thank them for responding to the call of the government,” he stated.
Sanguila, in his peace message, said that the people of Lanao are for peace talks, and there is synergistic effort among local government units and non-government organizations in monitoring the negotiations between the government and the MILF, as well as the National Democratic Front (NDF).
He also pointed out the importance of involving and informing conflict communities in the peace process. “The most people who are affected by the conflict should be the most well-informed on what’s going on at the negotiating table,” Sanguila said, stressing that this will empower them in deciding for their future.
The culminating event was highlighted by a symbolic coming together or salubong of government representatives and civil society delegates, as well as releasing of peace doves.
The annual Kauswagan Week of Peace is being organized by Pakigdait, Inc., an interfaith organization that focuses on grassroots peace building.