A Mindanao prelate has called for “peace spaces” in the war-torn region.
Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, who is also the head of Caritas Philippines, said some of the public places that can be declared as “peace spaces” are churches and schools.
“I am suggesting…neutral, public places to be declared as peace spaces: churches, mosques, temples; schools, hospitals, market places, and sports centers,” he said in a statement on Tuesday for the annual celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace.
“There must not be any incident of violence or disagreement in these areas, that will harm innocent bystanders, ruin public infrastructures, and negatively affect the delivery of basic social services,” added Bagaforo.
He said in order for peace to truly triumph in Mindanao, everyone must learn to “respect each other, to give each one a genuine sense of security and safety.”
However, Bagaforo stressed that the realization of peace must not only be limited to such spaces.
“We must strive to look at one another with compassion and kindness. So we will choose to see people from the other side as our brothers and sisters, instead of enemies. So we will see the places we are in as common spaces where respect and trust are paramount, not as battlefields,” he said.
“One of our agenda at Caritas Philippines is to promote a culture of respect for life so eventually, we will be able to live in peace. Hopefully, with everyone’s help, we will be able to experience this in our lifetime,” added Bagaforo.
The Mindanao Week of Peace started in 2001 through Proclamation Order No. 127 issued by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to “recognize the common aspirations of Mindanaoans to live in peace, unity, and harmony with each other regardless of status in life, religion or culture.”