Amon Jadid essence fuels zeal, optimism on Mindanao peace PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 November 2012 14:28

Southern communities, the police and the military celebrated Thursday the Amon Jadid, or Islamic New Year, with calls for continuing support to the Mindanao peace process and cooperation in ensuring clean and honest elections in 2013.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman declared November 15 a non-working holiday in ARMM, which covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur; the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi.

This year’s Amon Jadid, or the first day of the month of Muharram in year 1434, falls on October 15.

Muslim members of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division were given day-long reprieve from duties for them to have enough time to be with their friends and relatives to celebrate Amon Jadid.

Maj. Gen. Ceasar Ronnie Ordoyo, commander of 6th ID, ordered Thursday all military units in Maguindanao and North Cotabato to embark on more humanitarian projects and backchannel dialogues with the Muslim and Christian communities they serve to show the government’s sincerity in dealing with the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Ordoyo also assured local officials in Maguindanao and North Cotabato of the 6th ID’s support to their medical and dental missions in far-flung areas where there are MILF enclaves covered by the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

The MILF has more than 50 duly acknowledged lairs in Maguindanao. The group’s main bastion, Camp Darapanan, is located in the town of Sultan Kudarat in the first district of the same province.

The dates of Islamic religious holidays and events are based on the Islamic lunar Hijrah calendar. The Amon Jaded comes after the culmination of the yearly Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

While performing the Hajj is one of the so-called “five pillars” of Islam, it is non-obligatory for Muslims that cannot afford the cost of travel to Mecca, seat of the Islamic religion.

Hataman’s chief-of-staff, John Magno, said this year’s celebration of the Amon Jadid is symbolic for its having been preceded by the October 15 crafting of the framework agreement between the government and the MILF.

“The ARMM leadership supports the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF, while seeing to it that the ARMM and Malacañang’s joint reform efforts in the regional government are also taking off, being sustained with the help of local peace stakeholders,” Magno said.

Magno said Hataman already tasked the inter-agency, cross-section ARMM peace and order council, and the region’s police director, Chief Supt. Mario Avenido, to reach out to MILF forces and tap rebel leaders, via protocols established by the joint ceasefire committee, in peace-keeping missions meant to ensure peaceful and honest elections in 2013.

The ARMM’s regional elections — where residents are to vote for a regional governor, vice governor, and three representatives, from each of the eight congressional districts in the region, to the 24-seat Regional Legislative Assembly  — are to be held simultaneous with next year’s local and national elections.

Ordoyo and Avenido have both committed to help the Commission on Elections administer safe and orderly elections in areas under their respective jurisdictions.

“We look forward to a more peaceful another Hijrah year in the ARMM,” Avenido said in a text message.

In an emailed Amon Jadid message, the governor of Maguindanao, Esmael Mangudadatu, who is vying for a second term under the banner of the administration’s Liberal Party, reiterated his willingness to sign a peace covenant with the Comelec binding him and all his party mates to abide by the Omnibus Election Code.

Mangudadatu said he is elated with this year’s Amon Jadid being close to the forthcoming Yuletide Season of the Christians.

“We must be inspired by the `spirit’ of the Islamic New Year to work harder for the attainment of peace in Maguindanao. Let this holiday be a takeoff point for more determination, strength and energy in helping President Benigno Aquino III build lasting peace in Mindanao,” Mangudadatu said in his emailed statement.

Mangudatatu is the provincial party chairman for Maguindanao of the Liberal Party.

Ordoyo said the Amon Jadid celebration also signaled the start of their planning of outreach programs directly involving the MILF.

He said the 6th ID is keen on organizing traditional and conventional games for mixed Army and guerilla teams.

“It should be combination of MILF members and soldiers in each team for them to realize the importance of teamwork, patience and cooperation,” Ordoyo said.

Ordoyo said they will also focus on the speedy resolution of clan wars involving big Moro clans in Central Mindanao.

Even leaders of Central Mindanao’s business community have lately been active in showing support to the GPH-MILF talks.

Pete Marquez, regional governor for Central Mindanao of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he and many other merchants in the region just held a “brainstorming session” on the newly-crafted framework agreement with MILF officials in Camp Darapanan.

“There were extensive discussions. Speculations and apprehensions were ironed out and clarified during the meeting. It was cordial. We need more of such meetings to promote oneness in pushing forward the Mindanao peace process,” Marquez said.

Marquez said as a Christian, he too, looks up to the ‘symbolism’ of the forthcoming Christmas and New Year’s Day in the Gregorian calendar being only more than a month away from the Amon Jadid.

“That should open our eyes and hearts to the importance of us, Muslims, and non-Muslims, to unite amidst our religious and cultural diversities for us to become a strong Southern region of mixed, peace-loving people,” Marquez said.