01/08/2010, 00.00
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Mindanao: spreading a culture of peace through radio

by Santosh Digal
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate inaugurate their new media centre. Through news, music and entertainment, they plan to spread a culture of peace among the people in one of the most violence-stricken regions of the Philippines.
Mindanao (AsiaNews) –  The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) have inaugurated their new broadcast centre in Cotabato City (Mindanao). Branding themselves as "radio for peace", the two radio stations DXMS-AM and DXOL-FM of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation will share the new facility with The Mindanao Cross weekly and the audiovisual service firm I-Watch. The two radio stations will thus be able to live up to their motto "Beyond frontiers" and better reach the city and the southern part of Mindanao Island. Through news, music, and other entertainment and public affairs programs, they will spread a culture of peace in one of the most violence-stricken regions of the Philippines.

The motto conveys the idea of breaking down barriers among people, said Jonathan Domingo, head of the Oblate Media Center, so that people can be more inclusive and compassionate towards others, and thus fulfil the core values of the Oblate mission in the Philippines.

“Besides covering the news in the region, it [the centre] espouses an active public journalism [. . .], providing in-depth analysis and information for a better understanding of issues affecting the region," Fr Domingo said. In addition, “the physical coming together of these entities will create a strong network that will promote and enhance synergy among these institutions,” he said.

For the clergyman,  the physical proximity "will create a strong network that will promote and enhance synergy among these institutions," as well as raise awareness among journalists about the importance of peace in Mindanao.

I-Watch, for example, is an audiovisual service that produces and disseminates material on various local issues and gives a voice to the region's poor.

Founded in 1948, the weekly The Mindanao Cross is one of the island's oldest Catholic papers. It stopped publication only when dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law (1972-1981).

For the past 40 years, Mindanao's Muslim majority has been affected by a conflict between the Filipino military and radical Islamic groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf.

However, peace talks have been underway since September between the government and MILF. Recently the army captured Abdul Basir Latip, a founding member of Abu Sayyaf.

Sadly, the existence of private armies controlled by powerful Muslim clans in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has created another point of conflict (see " Mindanao: dozens killed in election-related fighting between rival families", AsiaNews.it, 23 November 2009). Because of this martial law was imposed on 8-12 December 2009 and the region is still  patrolled by 4,000 Filipino soldiers.

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