“Investing in education can break the cycle of conflict, promote dialogue, and build a brighter future where unity and harmony prevail.”
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COTABATO CITY (SDN) — The Philippines is observing this year’s iteration of the National Peace Consciousness Month established in July 2004 through Presidential Proclamation No. 675.
It’s obviously a vital proclamation which the Filipino nation should put in mind to appreciate the importance of and achieving peace in the country.
That’s given the fact that the country of over 110 million had only recently experience the absence of war, particularly in Southern Philippines, notably in Central Mindanao, arising from the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA).
The Philippine government (GPH) and the formerly separatists/secessionists Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the FPA 27 years ago and the CAB nine years ago, respectibely, ending protracted peace negotiations marked by major and minor wars and battles.
Because of the two landmark peace accords, the country is now enjoying what should be a sustainable peace and security for a long time.
For as in war, pundits say, there are no winners.
So, the Philippines celebrates the National Peace Consciousness Month annually to remind Filipinos of its importance.
Over at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the observance of the peace month, September 1 to 30, was not lost on the MILF chief negotiator, Mohagher M. Iqbal. He is the head of the Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE),
Iqbal, also the chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, which has a counterpart in the GPH, encouraged everyone to reflect on the deep link that ties up education and the foundations of sustainable peace, justice, and reconciliation.
He likewise declared the importance of education in achieving peace in the BARMM.
The Bangsamoro region , established in 2018 by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to implement the 2014 CAB, is made up of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as the Special Geographic Area’s (SGA) 63 barangays or villages that voted “Yes” in a plebiscite in February 2019 to be under the BARMM jurisdiction.
According to the Philippine Atlas BARMM has 4,404,288 people. It has 116 municipalities: Basilan, 11 municipalities; Lanao del Sur, 39; undivided Maguindanao, 36; Sulu, 19; and Tawi-Tawi, 11. Its component cities are Cotabato (the regional center and capital) in Maguindanao; Lamitan in Basilan; and Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
“Education is the key to peace in the Bangsamoro region. It empowers individuals with knowledge, skills, and understanding, fostering tolerance and cooperation among diverse communities. As educators, we can plant the seeds of patience, empathy, and respect in classrooms and various learning sites. We can equip our children and young people with the tools to become advocates for justice, champions of reconciliation, and architects of lasting peace. Investing in education can break the cycle of conflict, promote dialogue, and build a brighter future where unity and harmony prevail,” says Iqbal.
The BARMM education minister called on the Bangsamoro people to join up in celebrating this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month as he assured the regional government’s constancy of purpose in molding a new generation with steeped in values.
“So, let us celebrate the transformative power of education this National Peace Consciousness Month 2023. The Bangsamoro government reaffirms its commitment to nurturing a generation that will stand up for what is right, work tirelessly for justice, and build a world where peace is not merely a dream but a living reality.”
Iqbal concluded his message for the month-long observance with the words, “Through education, we can sow the seeds of a more just, compassionate, and peaceful future for all.”
Since his assumption as BARMM education minister, Iqbal has been putting in place reform to improve the quality of education in the region, including provisions for IT equipment, education-related tools & devices, constructing new school buildings to increase the number of classrooms, hiring of teaching and non-teaching personnel, assistance to teachers, among others. (✓)