BUC stand for Bishops-Ulama Conference. I founded this group of Catholic, Muslim and Protestant religious leaders on November 29, 1996. My co-founder was the late Dr. Mahid M. Mutilan who was a mayor of Marawi City and late Governor of Lanao del Sur. He was also president of the Ulama League of the Philippines. Our members are all the 24 Catholic bishops in Mindanao, 24 Muslim ulama (religious scholars) and 18 Protestant bishops and pastors, also from Mindanao.
For the past 20 years we were helping the government and the rebel movements, both moro and communist, in the so-called peace process, promoting the culture of peace and of interfaith dialogue otherwise known as interreligious dialogue with non-christians and ecumenical dialogue with non-catholic christians. To bring about true understanding and collaboration we emphasize those common values that unite us and try to understand those that divide us.
The good news is the announcement by Sec. Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace (OPAPP) that the “peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF are back on track.” Several weeks before, the President suspended them after the NPAs killed a couple of military troopers while talks were going on in Rome. Why is this good? Here is why.
We in the BUC wish to share with the Gov’t and the two rebel movements what we call The People’s Platform for Peace in Mindanao. This is the result of our 2009-2010 BUC project called Konsult Mindanao (KM). Under our guidance a team of academicians and researchers from Catholic, Muslim and Protestant universities and colleges in Mindanao interviewed more than 5000 individuals belonging to the three religious traditions (including Protestant and Catholic IPs and moro rebels). They were asked to answer 4 questions: What is your idea and personal experience of peace? What are your recommendations to the negotiating peace panels? What is your broader idea of peace for Mindanao? What can you contribute or sacrifice for peace in Mindanao?
The respondents’ responses were professionally analyzed. The Findings constitute what is called the People’s Platform summarized in 6 S’s: Sensitivity, Security, Sincerity, Solidarity, Spirituality, and Sustainability. They are not solutions to problems but foundations of whatever must be discussed and agreed on the negotiating table.
We in the BUC are happy and grateful that OPAPP approves and supports our series of KM Peace Conferences in 5 strategic cities around the region this year 2017. Our main purpose, with the help of Director Jimmielou de la Vega of the Davao Association of Catholics Schools (DACS) and the former KM team under Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, is, first, to inform the Mindanaoans of their Peace Platform and, second, for them to demand from the Gov’t and the peace negotiators that they review, rethink, and reformulate their substantive proposed agreements and to base and reanchor them on the 6 Foundations of the Peace Platform. Sec. Dureza enthusiastically approved our project and assured the First KM Peace Conference last December 16-17, 2016 in Davao City attended by more than hundred people that he himself would be personally present in all.
This to us is the Great and Good News. (to be continued)