Celso reaffirms support to Interfaith solidarity PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 February 2011 14:40

Mayor Celso Lobregat the other day has reaffirmed support to Interfaith solidarity citing the importance of peaceful coexistence to the city’s growth.

“Zamboanga is a city of diverse cultures and a multi-ethnic society. Our population is a good mixture of Christians, Muslims and Lumads who co-exist with great respect for and tolerance of one another despite our religious differences”, Mayor Lobregat said in his message during the Zamboanga Interfaith Solidarity Dinner  forum in support of the observance of the  World Interfaith week.

The solidarity dinner forum gathered key religious leaders form different religious groups in the city and coincided with the opening of the 2nd National Conference of Muslim Women Advocates which ran from Feb. 7-10 at the Garden Orchid Hotel.

The city government, the mayor said, always initiates dialogues and activities demonstrating respect for the different ethnic traditions and practices with goal of promoting peace and harmony among the residents. 

The city also makes sure to undertake programs and projects that benefit the majority, if not all of the population.  “We encourage the participation of the different sectors and communities and give their opinions equal weight.”

During special occasions, the chief executive said, the city promotes ecumenical activities by inviting leaders from various religious groups to share in prayer. At the height of the Mampang-Arena Blanco-Talon-talon situation last year, the city government initiated meetings not only with law enforcement agencies but most importantly with the leaders of different faiths in a bid to find common grounds on how to resolve lawlessness in the 3 barangays.

The mayor likewise cite the continuous efforts of his administration to promote Muslim-Christian relationship by undertaking programs and projects that establish equitable social progress and economic development, quality public education, infrastructure development and other social service-related undertakings— all for the people of Zamboanga regardless of faith, culture and tradition.

He specifically cited the newly inaugurated and turned over projects that included the barangay hall, multi-purpose center and concrete catwalk at barangay Mariki, a Muslim-dominated area. School buildings have also been constructed in the island barangays and health facilities are also to be constructed in Busay, the area where an outreach mission was held recently.

The Lobregat administration also initiated the sponsorship of the yearly pagbukah since 2004 as a show of respect and friendship to the Muslim sector.

He stressed that most tensions in the world are associated with religions—at least that is what people who resort to violence want the rest of us to believe”.

“I cannot pretend to know or understand exactly what started these conflicts and when.  All I know is there are those who focus only in the things that differentiate and/or elevate one religion from the other.  These people refuse to see our similarities, not least of which is our faith in singular being superior to mankind.  We call Him by a different name but each religion follows this Supreme Being’s teachings on how to live and how to treat others,” the mayor said.

He added that Zamboanguenos are all for peace but that the only way to resolve religion related misunderstandings is, as what Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad had pointed out, “by coordinating and unifying efforts among all interfaith groups doing positive work through one focused annual theme.”
The Solidarity Dinner Forum was organized by the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, the Magbassa Kita Foundation Inc headed by Amina Rasula and former Senator Santanina Rasul and the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines. It was the only Philippine event organized to support the UN resolution for interfaith harmony week.

During the dinner-forum different religious community shared messages of faith, peace and harmony. They speakers included Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles, Pastor Zusedel F. Caballes from the Jesus is Lord Church, President Bartolome Madriagas, Zamboanga Philippines Stake, Church of Jesus and Latter Day Saints, and Sr. Maria Niña C. Balbas from the RVM Congregation.

The dinner forum culminated with the ceremonial signing on the “Wall of Peace” as a show of solidarity to the cal l for peace in Minanao, in the country and the world. — Sheila Covarrubias