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Chief Justice Puno called for more respect and acceptance of the Other to resolve the Mindanao conflict. He was the keynote speaker in the conference on Christian-Muslim Solidarity in Aid of Development organized by the Asian Center for the Study of Democracy and the Workers Party (LAPIANG MANGGAGAWA) with the support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, held on March 19, 2009 at the University of Asia and the Pacific. While Chief Justice focused on the foundations for a peaceful cooperation between the Christians and Muslims, KAS Country Representative Klaus Preschle spoke on the concept of Social Market Economy and Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas, Chairman of the Center for Research and Communications (CRC) Foundation gave his speech about the Christian Social Doctrine of the Church.
The Christian-Muslim conflict in the Philippines has been a longstanding puzzle that the government, academe, business, even civil society groups and international observers are trying to solve up to this point.
Studies and possible solutions to attain peace have been discussed, some flourished, some failed one of which, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA-AD).
Philippine Coconut Authority Chairman and Ambassador Jose V. Romero Jr., mentioned in the welcoming remarks that the solution to conflict between the Christians and the Muslims in Mindanao lies within the solidarity and its requisites – peace, order and justice, thereby setting the tempo of the convention. He mentioned education, mobilization and advocacy as the thrust of the Asian Center for the Study of Democracy.
Atty. Jose M. Villegas Jr. gave a short history of his party. In commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Lapiang Manggagawa, he highlighted its accomplishments through the years, as well as the importance of labor parties and unions to the country’s politics. Atty. Villegas also gave the introduction of the key speaker, Chief Justice Reynato Puno, citing his accomplishments during the nascent stages of his career.
Chief Justice Puno said that Christian-Muslim solidarity means the creation of “a bridge that connects a centuries-old abyss for social justice is a central value in both traditions.” Bridging the differences between the two great traditions for our country requires “openness of both Christians and Muslims to turn towards a third direction that they can both take with eyes fixed on social justice.”
Reasons for the conflict cited by the Chief Justice includes not only religious differences but also, socio-cultural differences, socio-economic marginalization, political patronage, ethnic rivalry, militarization, conflicting notions of land ownership and land claims, and discrimination and inequality. Poverty has also caused the conflict when it reinforces social inequalities. In order to redress such faults, the Chief Justice urged both parties to put themselves on the “other’s shoe.” This must begin with understanding the roots of the conflict which goes far back in our history. He said that “Respect and acceptance of the other is crucial for Christians and Muslims to engage in dialogue even if they come from different world views.”
Mr. Gil Santos, the President of the Center for Futuristic Studies, moderated the open forum as various members of the audience gave their remarks on the speech of the Chief Justice.
Mr. Klaus Preschle, Country Representative of KAS in the Philippines elaborated on the Social Market economy and its German model, which could prove beneficial to the development of the Philippines. His speech was followed by a panel discussion. The panelists were composed of Atty. Charlie Serapio, the secretary general of the Christian Nationalist Union; and Mr. Charlie Avila, a trustee of the Raul S. Manglapus Foundation.
Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas, Chairman of the Center for Research and Communications (CRC) Foundation, gave a speech about the Christian social doctrine of the Church and was also followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included Mr. Bienvenido P. Nito, Director of the social economics unit of the UA&P; and Dr. Rene Gayo, a trustee of the CRC Foundation.
The event was participated by young professionals, members of the diplomatic community and the Lapiang Manggagawa, students and faculty members of UA&P and civil society groups.