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Silsilah lauds Hataman's initial steps toward reform in ARMM


The Zamboanga City-based influential dialogue movement has lauded the first steps of caretaker regional governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Mujiv Hataman towards reform in the autonomous region.

"Observing your first moves as ARMM OIC I sense that you are doing you best," Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME, founder of Silsilah Dialogue Movement, said in an open letter, dated 2nd  Week - January 11, 2012, emailed yesterday to Zamboanga Today.

“Padayon!” (Move on!) This is the word of encouragement that you still remember for sure from the Silsilah experience."

D'Ambra became a friend and mentor of Hataman when he joined the Silsilah Summer Course held at Silsilah's House of Peace Harmony Village in Pitogo, Barangay Sinunuc, Zamboanga City, several years ago.

"It is not the first time that a Muslim or Christian alumnus of Silsilah has occupied an important position in Philippine society in one of the  institutions or  universities," he said.

D'Ambra further said Hataman is now in one of the most difficult and challenging positions in the country. "It is a  position that can facilitate the peace process or continue the situation of violence and corruption in Mindanao."

He is confident that the ARMM OIC can legitimately take pride in the notable achievements which are part of his  “heritage” as a Muslim and a Mindanawon.

However, he said that this same heritage also has negative elements which includes violence that reached its  highest level on the occasion of the Maguindanao Massacre.

"Most of the time people believe that if we have more security structures and more money we can solve the problem of  peace in Mindanao.  This is only partially  right," D'Ambra went on.

"How  much money has been given to ARMM over the years  and  how many thousands of soldiers have been assigned in Mindanao. But what have been the results?" he asked.

He believe that the National Government and the ARMM have to improve the “truth and sincerity” in their relations and make it the real foundation of peace and development.

Meanwhile, Fr. D'Ambra expressed support to Hataman in all the wise moves he will make to help the central government realize that only a real and genuine autonomy, or a similar form of governance, can be made as an example in Mindanao and hopefully applied  in other regions as an appropriate form of “federalism” or similar system in the Philippines.

"You (Hataman) have the challenge to convince the  people of ARMM to claim what is  right, but with a  realistic attitude that considers the real  development of Mindanao, where the indigenous people and others who have reached Mindanao from other areas have rights too."

The Silsilah movement founder said he knows Hataman has courage and determination.

"Use all your gifts and talents to become a model of a leader who is in the front line for the 'common good'  and not the 'common corruption and violence' that bring more poverty," D'Ambra advised Hataman.

He also reminded Hataman of the Silsilah commitment to promote the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace  based on  personal and social transformation.

"People around you have to  learn how to be  good Muslims or good Christians, living and promoting love and compassion. How many times we find hypocritical leaders who act as though they are good Muslims or  good Christians, but their  hearts are still full of hatred, violence and  corruption. We need  righteous people in society starting with the leaders. I hope and pray that you will be one model in Mindanao."

D'Amba furthered that he is sure Hataman will continue to do the best. He suggested that from  1977, the year he arrived in Mindanao, up to now he has seen the struggle of many good Muslims and Christians to overcome historical conflicts, mnew prejudices and forms of mistrust, among the  two faith communities, including the lumads in Mindanao.

"But  so far  the results have been limited because many of them are part of the 'silent majority'  who are afraid to share  their   feelings on anomalies carried out by some leaders of sectors of society;  illegal  businesses; corruption, etc.," he said.

He said doing it in this way violence allows more  violence and fear , which continue to perpetuate the 'culture of silence and fear'.

We have to overcome this critical  situation  in all possible ways."

"One way to start can be to follow the encouragement  coming from the United Nations to celebrate the first  week of  February every year as the  World Interfaith Harmony Week."

This move of the United Nations was  inspired by the  open letter of 138 Muslim scholars of the  world to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christians  leaders  of the world to  work  together for  peace, starting from the message of  the love of God and the love of  neighbor  in Islam  and  Christianity as it is  found  in the teaching of the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an."

"We in Zamboanga City and in  the ZAMBASULTA sub-region  are moving in this  direction in partnership  with the National Ulama Conference of the  Philippines which  is the lead group  of  this  special  Interfaith Harmony Week  Celebration.  I hope you will   spread  this  celebration in the  ARMM region as a good starting point to  celebrate Harmony as  the  answer to the  future peace of Mindanao," concluded Fr. D’Ambra.

By Hader Glang

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