‘Speak out Zambo’ tackles Muslim-Christian relations PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 22 September 2014 13:56

The third of a series of youth forum dubbed “Speak Out Zambo” rolled out Sunday with some 120 youth leaders representing different schools and organizations actively sharing thoughts and inputs on the topic building Muslim and Christian relations.

Just as in previous forums, the activity featured a series of “talk clouds” to discuss pressing issues on being a Muslim or Christian youth in the city in terms of access to social services such as education, health and employment as well as possible solutions. The discussions were facilitated by youth leaders and lead facilitators Prof. Jason Sabdilon and Dr. Nahda Abutazil.

One of the highlights during the day-long forum was the “speak out” where youth leaders presented their recommendations to Mayor Beng Climaco and other heads of agencies, who in turn presented their immediate response. Six recommendations were presented and they included Sensitivity to others, and to the self; Reorient how our families look at others; Review, revised, and strictly implement policies in diff orgs and levels; Immediate & decisive action as response to reported bullying. Realistic & reasonable sanction system; Monitoring line agencies in government in delivery of tasks and to consider structural changes in government.

Dr. Steven Rood, Country Director of the Asia Foundation who kicked off the forum underscored the essence of harmony and unity between Muslims and Christians “It is important for the thriving of Zamboanga City that the two communities, Christians and Muslims, communicate. We are hoping that with this event, we are able to bring together the two communities, to reach out to each other.”

Mayor Beng Climaco in her message said it is her administration’s thrust to celebrate the diversity of culture in Zamboanga. This means, respecting and recognizing the importance of all tribes, culture and religious beliefs in Zamboanga.

She assured that her administration will continue to undertake programs and initiate steps to ensure unity and harmonious relationship between the Muslims and Christians in Zamboanga City.

Representatives from other agencies and religious groups were one in saying that despite difference in culture and religious beliefs, everybody are brothers and sisters in the eyes of God and Allah.

The activity was capped with a covenant signing where all agency and group representatives led by Mayor Climaco and Dr. Rood including the participants affixed their signature in the covenant for peace acknowledging diversity and committing themselves to the “constant pursuit of building and maintaining a culture of dialogue among Muslims and Christians for peace and harmony in Zamboanga City”.

The youth forum Sunday was organized by the Asia Foundation, through its USAID-supported People to People Engagement (P2P) Program, in partnership with Markaz Attarbiyatul Islamiyah Inc. and the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga and the City Government.

The activity was first launched in June 2014 by the USAID in partnership with the City Government as a response to constituency responsive governance. It is envisioned to be  a monthly face-to-face dialogue where youth can creatively engage and interact with Zamboanga City leaders on pertinent issues besetting their sector.

Among the agency representatives who acted as respondents during the forum yesterday were Councilor BG Guingona, representatives from the group ESPERANZA, MAII, Archdiocese of Zamboanga, National Commission for Muslim Filipinos, National Youth Commission and other agencies. — Sheila Covarrubias