‘Prayer warriors’ campaign for peace PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 October 2015 14:44

By AL JACINTO

The influential and one of the Philippines’ biggest religious groups, the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry or JMCIM, has for the second time this year, launched the “Yes for Peace” and urged Filipinos to support the advocacy, especially in Mindanao where violence is widespread.

Peace advocates, including the police and military and government officials, have praised the launching of this and renewed support to the JMCIM. Just in March, the JMCIM led by Evangelist Pastor Wilde Estrada Almeda, also launched “Yes for Peace – Bayanihan para sa KKK (Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan)” in support to President Benigno Aquino’s peace efforts.

The Pastor’s son and namesake, JMCIM Minister Wilde James Comon Almeda, Jr. is also actively involved in the advocacy and Yes for Peace campaign in the country.

The Yes for Peace, an unfunded, non-government initiated peace education and advocacy campaign, is being supported by Department of Education; the Philippine Postal Corporation, the Presidential Communications Operations Office; the Philippine Information Agency; the Philippine News Agency; and the National Printing Office, among other groups.

Strong Support

Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, member of the JMCIM and lead organizer of Yes for Peace, urged the faithful and the public to support the campaign. Pitching in to support the pursuit of the objectives of Yes for Peace, Commission on Human Rights chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon, reminded the police and military of their duty to protect the human rights of the Filipino people.

General Hernando DCA Iriberri, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in his statement at the launching of the Yes for Peace, said: “After more than 40 years of battling communist insurgency, we have come to understand that the solution to the problem of fighting among brother Filipinos does not entirely solely depend on the strength of the military. The solution has always been involving people to work together to uplift the condition of our way of life and reject the use of violence to advance our grievances.”

“It is on this note that I would like to thank the “Yes for Peace” program for becoming one of the catalysts for peace, thus becoming part of the solution that could potentially contribute in ending the conflict that has ruined the lives of many and slowed the economic growth and development of our country. Rest assured that the AFP through the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan will continue its pursuit of peace with utmost respect for human rights and emphasis on the role of our stakeholders. The AFP will remain as the staunch and reliable ally of our peace-loving citizens in wining and securing the peace for our country.”

Police Director General Ricardo Marquez also emphasized that “there is a need to encourage all government agencies to participate in various activities to instil greater public awareness and understanding of the meaning and culture of peace as well as its process.”

Other Mindanao tribal leaders and representatives of civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations also pledged their strong support to the JMCIM and Yes for Peace. They also joined the unveiling of the Yes for Peace rock marker at the University of the Philippines recently.

Arthur J. Tariman, convenor of the Victims of Injustice, Criminality and Terrorism in Mindanao (VICTIM) for brevity, a nongovernmental organization committed to justice, peace and development, said: “In the light of the armed conflicts among some Lumads of Mindanao brought about by the communist insurgency, we in VICTIM support for the call for Kahimunan or dialog among the warring members of clans and tribes of Mindanao.”

He said the dialogue will result to a peace pact among the clans and tribes and eventually end the violence. “Our Lumad brothers and sisters are entitled to peace – kapayapaan or kalinaw or kalilintad – as they used to be centuries ago. It is their right and our right as humans and we therefore declare without any mental reservation our unequivocal support to the call for Yes for Peace – asserting peace as a human right.”

Datu Javier Sabas Abasolo, of the Sabas-Bocales clans of the Manobo tribe in Mindanao, who was also present at the JMCIM event, narrated that their ancestral domain sits in the vicinity of Mount Tikbayon in the boundary of the Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur where New People’s Army and government troops and their supporters are battling each other.

He said the rebels have encroached in Mount Tikbayon and imposed its will on tribesmen and civilians which divided the tribe between pro and anti NPA.

“Being native to the place there is no better people than us to aspire for peace – lasting peace – in the area around Mount Tikbayon. Yes we are Lumad, but we are also humans and it is our right at such to aspire for peace. And there is no fitting forum but here and we now declare our unconditional support for peace, a peace with justice.”

Datu Abasolo said with the historic unveiling of the Yes for Peace rock, “I, as representative of the Sabas-Bocales clans express our unequivocal support to declare the aspiration for peace as a human right.”

Brother Danilo Cuarteros, of the JMCIM, said in coordination with the Commission on Human Rights, the results of follow through activities shall be publicly announced during the celebration of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

He said reports that will be received later shall then be incorporated into the report which would be submitted to President Benigno Aquino during the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution as a manifestation of the people’s support for the President’s policy on the peace process.

JMCIM Peace Campaign

Brother Cuarteros said the JMCIM also enjoins its members to actively participate in Yes for Peace by following-up the compliance by public and private elementary and high schools where their children study to Department of Education Memorandum 277, s. 2011 as well as subsequent issuance until, if needed to stress the point, majority of Filipinos have responded to the campaign that calls for the permanent cessation of the armed conflicts; conduct of peace negotiations here in the country instead of abroad; and direct people’s involvement and participation (Bayanihan) for the implementation of programs and projects that have already been agreed upon or will be agreed upon.

“We shall endeavour to restore confidence in peace process that is transparent and participative,” Brother Cuarteros said, adding, Pastor Almeda and Brother Alcanzare continue to pray for the President Aquino’s favorable response to join the calls of over 11 million Filipinos who have thus far responded to the Yes for Peace – Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan campaign and are actually praying that President Aquino personally respond to Yes to Peace and use his position to push for the whole of nation approach and Bayanihan (collective involvement and participation) in addressing the protracted armed conflicts of Filipinos against Filipinos to protect and uphold the individual and collective human right of the Filipino people to peace.

But just recently, suspected NPA rebels have killed the 56-year old Loreto town Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Daryl, 27, in Butuan City in Mindanao. The bodies of Otaza, a former rebel and a tribe man, and his son were found by troops a day after rebels abducted them.

According to Brother Cuarteros: “The spate of killings of Lumads in Surigao del Sur that once again brought out the ugly effects of armed conflicts prompted organizers of the Yes for Peace– Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan, to put up the Yes for Peace rock marker to underscore the call of more than 11.2 million Filipinos for the following – the permanent cessation of hostilities between government forces and all armed groups; the conduct of peace negotiations here in the Philippines instead of abroad; and for Bayanihan orcollective involvement and participation in implementing programs and projects agreed upon and may be agreed upon in open and participatory peace talks with rebels.”

For her part, Dean Grace Aguiling Dalisay, of the University of the Philippines-College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, said that while the Yes for Peace rock is important to mark what has happened, “it is more important that more people know more what Yes for Peace is all about.”

Miraculous Mission

The JMCIM also celebrated recently the 15th anniversary of the miraculously successful Talipao Peace Mission led by Pastor Almeda along with Brother Cuarteros, an ordained preacher and one of the 12 so-called prayer warriors who helped JMCIM founder to convince the Abu Sayyaf rebels to free 21 mostly European holidaymakers they kidnapped in Sabah in 2000 and brought to Sulu province.

Tens of thousands of people joined the anniversary celebration held at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City, and a huge crowd is also expected in Zamboanga City for another celebration.

Pastor Almeda led the prayer warriors in successfully fasting, praying and negotiating for the release, without ransom, of the hostages. The incredible survival and strong faith in God of Pastor Almeda’s group that led them to freedom and the miracle that also changed the hearts of many Abu Sayyaf members and their leaders is also in a book “Miracles in Moroland” written by American author and evangelist Sam Smith.

The book was launched this year by evangelist couple Luke and Annalissa Smith together with Brother Cuarteros and Hermie Limpin, who was also with the group of Pastor Almeda, when Abu Sayyaf rebels seized them in Talipao town during the historic peace mission. — Al Jacinto