12/04/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Week of Peace in Mindanao: Dialogue between the MILF and the government, stop the killing

by Santosh Digal
From 26 November to 2 December in the southern archipelago Christians and Muslims united for peace. Prayers for the victims of the massacre in Maguindanao and for a final agreement between Manila and Muslim rebels. Catholic priest: we must protect our "common homeland".

Zamboanga City (AsiaNews) - A thought for the victims of the massacre in Maguindanao and renewed hope for dialogue between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), after 16 months of deadlock. With these hopes Mindanao celebrated the "Week of Peace 2009", scheduled from 26 November to 2 December in the southern archipelago.  

Fr. Angel Calvo, a Claretian missionary and guide the association Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), points out that the closing ceremony "renewed" a "vision" and a "common passion for peace" in our common homeland".  The priest recalls the "suffering" that has long marked Mindanao, but also adds that there is a common desire to "bring young people and children a dream of peace and harmony."  

Mayor of Zamboanga City, Celso L. Lobregat, adds that understanding the different facets in Mindanao is the key to true harmony in society. "We must not only respect each other - he explains - but try to understand respective cultures and traditions". Even before Christians or Muslims, the mayor points out that "we are all Filipinos, regardless of the faith we profess."  

During the Week of Peace prayers were said for the victims of Maguindanao, in which 57 people were massacred in a power struggle between rival clans. The faithful also hope for a serious path to peace, on the eve of talks between the MILF and the Philippine Government on 8 December in Malaysia. For over16 months peace talks between Manila and Muslim rebels have been deadlocked: MILF claims the birth of an autonomous majority Muslim state in Mindanao (Armm) a request which has always been rejected by the central government.  
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