NCMF sponsored peace dialogue resolves what could be bloody conflict after the killing of Yakan tribal leader inside the Manila Islamic Center allegedly by Maranao assailant
By Julmunir I. Jannaral
ISLAMIC CENTER, Quiapo, Manila
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and the Office of House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman that sponsored the recent peace dialogue to help resolve a brewing conflict among Mindanao natives here in this Islamic Center in Metro Manila, ended up in finding the elusive peace that maintained a strong bond of unity among the Muslim residents.
NCMF Commissioner Yusoph J. Mando, one of those who brokered the peace dialogue told the Philippine Muslim Today that before the peace talk could have started, most of the residents became frightened and restless due to the unfortunate shooting incident that led to the killing of a Yakan tribal leader, who is a native of Basilan and was shot to death inside his rented room inside the Islamic Center at Brgy 648, Manila.
Commissioner Mando said the restlessness which resulted to forced evacuation and displacement of residents to include some transients living in the area ensued after the killing of Basilan tribal leader identified as Adzmar “Jhong Leonard” Hamsan reportedly by a still unknown Maranao assailant, who still remained at large.
The long hours of peace dialogue that at first became tense, when Muslim leaders of both Yakan and Maranao tribes were given ample time to ventilate their gripes and concerns against each other.
It can be emphasized that the peace dialogue was jointly facilitated by the Office of House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman and the NCMF represented by Commissioner Mando and Director Cosanie Mortaba Derogongan of the NCMF’s Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution (BPCR), NCMF-NCR.
It was also attended by Anak Mindanao Party-List, Philippine National Police Manila Police Department (PNP MPD) Station 14 right inside the Social Hall of Islamic Center Madrasa in Barangay 647, Manila.
Both tribes represented by its tribal leaders and other concerned agencies such as the NCMF have condemned and agreed to look for the solution rather than add to the problem caused by the unfortunate incident.
However, they agreed to amicably settle the disputes over the issue. A heartwarming speech and scene of forgiveness was given by the mother of the slain victim.
Asserting his mandate to protect and assist Muslim communities to exercise their rights, Commissioner Mando said he only needs to validate and confirm from the Yakan Community what is in their hearts and minds regarding the incident.
Observers have said that Commissioner Mando as a peacemaker has the moral ascendancy to let the concerned tribes smoke the so-called “peace pipe” considering that he belongs to the Yakan tribe and is happily married to one of the respected families from among the Maranao tribes of Lanao del Sur.
Having been part of his advocacy of peaceful co-existence and in pushing for the preservation of the Muslim culture and asserting efforts towards safeguarding the peace-loving community of Yakans against other tribes, Mando said he will do his best of what he can to be the steward of their tribe.
He added that what he had been doing is such a big challenge and an ultimate sacrifice. “I am doing this for the sake of my people and the Muslim community I call my own,” he said.
The leaders of the two tribes said they have set aside their differences to save Muslim community from the seemingly unending unrest, which makes their community more vulnerable to outside threats.
Both agreed that they have a duty to protect their community, acknowledging that as the resentment deepens between them, more division will be created.
“I decided to humbly appeal for the sake of peace. At the end of the day we are still family living in the same community. And I am doing this for my community. I felt happy and relieved after this activity,” said Director Cosanie M. Derogongan.
He said he was appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as the Director of Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution and now he is indeed assuming his role as a peacekeeper.
As this developed, Commissioner Mando also lauded the sincere efforts of President Duterte to improve the welfare of Muslim Filipinos as he thanked the President for the appointment of Director Derogongan as the head of the Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution under the NCMF.
On the other hand, the barangay officials of Brgy 648 Palanca, Manila and the PNP Station 14 chief signified their support to the said peace dialogue, which is poised to keep the legacy in upholding peaceful co-existence inside the Islamic Center Compound while advocating for peace and progress for the community.
Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Asec Pendatun Disimban, who also exerted efforts for a fair and peaceful talk among members of both tribes in the area, vowed that he will support whatever decision the community will come up to.
“Our role in the national government is to support and to ensure the Muslim community’s welfare. This resolution is only the first step in our mission to address other important issues within the community. We are the Muslim partners for development,” Disimban said.
Since the start of his term, Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan being at the helm of NCMF, dialogues have been part of the Commission ’s strategy for peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Commissioner Mando also told the NCR News Bureau of Philippine Muslim Today that he will continue to adopt this strategy as an important tool to improve relationships, understanding and trust among institutions, offices and people, thus, ensuring sustainable development for the community. JIJ