“It was not our intention to cause chaos in this country,” Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Ambassador Abu Khayr Alonto said in his speech during the first day of the first Mindanao Youth Peace Congress (MYPC) last July 16 at the Xavier Hall of the Community Center of the First Companions at the Ateneo de Davao University.
The event, which was organized by participants of the National Youth Parliament, I Lead for Peace Youth Camp with the help of the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Peace Process (OPAPP) gave emphasis on respecting the different cultures and religions, enlightenment about misconceptions and destruction of stereotypes.
In his speech, Alonto talked about the history of the Bangsamoro people, the war to alleviate oppression and hope of change since the election of fellow Mindanaoan and friend President Rodrigo Duterte. He iterated that in order to solve the conflict in Mindanao, the history of the Bangsamoro people must be understood.
Different groups and sectors also presented the cultures and uniqueness of their respective religions during the event. Participants of different faiths were given the opportunity to voice out their concerns and clarify basic misunderstandings behind their practices.
The afternoon session focused on situational discussions in Mindanao. Sammy Buat, OIC Regional Director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos first presented the Bangsamoro struggle which was soon followed by Jeremy Simons from the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute and his presentation about the oppression and plight of the Indigenous People (IPs).
The first day of the event was received well by the participants. Althea Esmael from AdDU’s Society of Advocative Leaders and Ateneo Muslims (SALAM) said that she could sense the determination of her fellow delegates.
“I can see the fire in the participants in their pursuit of peace. It’s natural to have differences but it is our duty to study and comprehend their perspective,” she said.
Jamal Baulo, a participant from Iligan City, stated that his expectations regarding the event were met.
“It’s very nice since it met my expectations in learning more about the culture of Mindanao. Hopefully, we can come out of this event with better solutions to our problems and experiences to share with our friends back home,” he said.
The MYPC will continue from July 16 until July 18, 2016.