01/12/2012, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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After the Maguindanao violence, Aquino appoints a Silsilah alumnus as governor

Mujiv Hataman, a Muslim, attended interfaith courses offered by Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. The new governor replaces Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, who is on trial for the Maguindanao massacre that cost the lives of 58 people.
Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – President Benino Aquino appointed Mujiv Hataman as the new caretaker governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). A Muslim, he is an alumnus of Silsilah, a movement for interfaith dialogue founded by Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra (PIME). He hails from Basilan Province and will replace Datu Zaldy Ampatuan who is on trial with members of his family for the Maguindanao massacre that left 58 people dead in November 2009.

“Hataman’s appointment is a sign that things are changing in the predominantly Muslim region affected by 40 years of war between Islamic extremists and the army and powerful local families,” Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra told AsiaNews.

The new governor must rebuild the ARMM’s political and administrative structure, undermined by the corruption and violence of the Ampatuans.

Before he got into politics, Hataman attended summer courses on Muslim-Christian dialogue, organised to instil in young leaders from both groups a culture of dialogue. It is in one of those courses that he met his future wife, who was also involved in promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue.

“Hataman is held in high esteem and was chosen from a number of candidates after months of consultation,” Fr D’Ambra explained. “Muslim leaders working with our movement are among his aides.”

Recently, the missionary wrote an open letter to the governor, inviting him to be a model for future generations, and remember his personal role in spreading a culture of dialogue and peace during his years at Silsilah.

“From the perspective of real and genuine autonomy, peace and security in Mindanao do not depend only on troop deployments but also on an effort to find ‘truth’, which is the basis for peace and development,” Fr D’Ambra added.

Founded in 1986, Silsilah has been involved in a number of initiatives like the Bishop-Ulema Forum and training courses for young Christians and Muslims.

At the same time, the movement has become a point of reference for the reconciliation efforts of the Filipino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In 40 years of war between the two sides, more than 100,000 people have died.
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