Mindanao Week of Peace: Caraga renews peace call amid threats

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THE MINDANAO Week of Peace was concluded Wed., Dec. 6, in Butuan City with stakeholders in the Caraga Region renewing calls for peace despite the intensified aggression from the New People’s Army and the threat of violent extremism. Agusan Del Norte Governor Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante-Matba, who chairs the Regional Peace and Order Council, emphasized the importance of unity in combatting insurgency in the region. “We in Caraga Region are pieces of a puzzle. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Agusan Del Sur, Agusan Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur, Surigao Del Norte or Dinagat Islands … We belong to one region. If we fit the (pieces of the) puzzle, we will be able to create a picture of true peace through cooperation and tolerance,” she said at the culmination event. Assistant Secretary Rolando B. Asuncion of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), for his part, cited the importance of inclusivity in the peace process in his keynote message. “We at OPAPP recognize the diverseness of the people in Caraga… We have Muslims, Christians and Lumads (indigenous peoples or IP) coexisting in this melting pot of culture and religion. It is important for us to recognize that our identity as Filipino goes beyond diversity. There are no barriers if we are working for the common good of our nation,” he said. This year’s Mindanao peace week, which started Nov. 30, involved various activities in different parts of the southern island, including forums on countering violent extremism, ecumenical gathering in commemoration of the 500-year anniversary of Protestant reformation, IP dialogue, youth summit, and forum on extortion and revolutionary tax. — Mindanao Bureau