03/14/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao: Catholics and Muslims seal peace deal

by Santosh Digal
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and 14 other Christian and Muslim associations pledge to work together and ensure clean and peaceful elections.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – Following pleas for peace by bishops and imams in the southern province of Zamboanga, Catholic and Muslim groups have sealed a accord to work together and ensure clean and peaceful elections. The Zamboanga’s Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) is among the sponsors of the initiative which convinced 14 associations to join the peace effort.

“This is a good example of how we, as a nation, can move past our differences and focus on what we have in common: the interest of our country,” said PPCRV head Henrietta De Villa.

For the past 40 years a deadly guerrilla war has pitted rebels from the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Filipino army.

Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic rebel group Abu-Sayyaf has also found safe havens in the area for training.

The deal establishes “a single network of volunteer monitors and watchers” for “monitoring, watching and canvassing of votes in the 2008 (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) ARMM elections,” especially to prevent them from being used as a pretext for more violence.

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