PASAY CITY (18 April 2023) – As part of its efforts to promote a culture of peace, mutual understanding and in solidarity with the country’s Muslim community, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) held an Iftar for peace partners on Tuesday.
Acting presidential peace adviser Sec. Isidro L. Purisima underscored the importance of celebrating the activity together with OPAPRU’s peace stakeholders.
“The celebration of Iftar is significant for many reasons, foremost among which is that it symbolizes the strong bond we have established with the Muslim faith. We believe that this spiritual partnership will be the key in promoting the culture of peace, mutual understanding and solidarity among our people,” he said.
For her part, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy President Amina Rasul-Bernardo emphasized that the nation’s geography should not be a hindrance in achieving peaceful co-existence among the Filipino people, saying “…religion, which can be a source of conflict as we see in many areas, has flourished within the borders of the Philippines because we have learned to accept each other.”
“We Filipinos are very religious. We are a nation where the ability of peoples from different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in contrast to the religious conflicts that persist elsewhere around the globe. And it is this building of a Filipino village which we hope could be a step into building a global village,” Rasul-Bernardo, who is the chair of OPAPRU’s Multisectoral Governance Council, said.
She said that this acceptance has led to the successful implementation of the peace processes with the two major Moro fronts – the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – noting that “It is this acceptance of each other that I think, has been the foundation of the successful peace processes we have had…”
MNLF Founder and Professor Nur Misuari, as represented by MNLF Vice Chair and Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Abdulkarim T. Misuari, highlighted the importance of celebrating the Iftar.
“It gives opportunities for gatherings such as this, to celebrate togetherness in pursuit of peace, a concept so deeply entwined in the purpose and being of a Muslim, that it is considered an act of worship to heed its call,” Misuari said.
Moro groups reaffirm commitment to peace
The top MNLF official has also reaffirmed the MNLF’s commitment in continuing to walk the path of peace.
“Let me take this opportunity to reiterate our most noble intentions to commit to the peace and security agenda of the President and to move forward to uplift the conditions of our people,” Misuari said.
“The MNLF remains focused in pursuit of justice, equality, and will always be in service to the Almighty Allah and the Bangsamoro people,” he added.
According to, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, the reunification of the MILF and MNLF sends a strong signal that both groups are now working side by side in the name of peace and development.
“We are very happy now to announce that the entire revolutionary and mujahideen group are all united in the current Bangsamoro,” Ebrahim said.
“We are happy even though we were divided before, we now have a common ground in this current Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he added.
Bangsamoro Minister of Labor and Employment Muslimin Sema thanked the national government for ensuring fulfilling the commitments it had made with the Moro groups despite the challenges in realizing them.
“…we can only thank our counterparts in the national government for adhering to the path to peace despite the challenges that almost brought us back again to battlefields, we found ourselves working together today,” Sema said.
International community affirms support to PH peace process
Meanwhile, Türkiye Ambassador to the Philippines Niyazi Evren Akyol lauded the remarkable progress that has been made under the Bangsamoro peace process.
“We are very happy and proud to see that the success of the Southern Philippines peace process is an example to the whole world that conflicts can be resolved in a peaceful way, however intractable they are,” Akyol said.
“This success indeed is evidence of the multi-cultural diversity and an exemplary sense of tolerance and unity of the Philippines,” he added.
Akyol also pledged Türkiye’s continued support to the peace process in the Bangsamoro.
“I would like to reiterate and emphasize that Turkiye will do its best, continue to do its best, to provide support for the success of the peace process in the future,” he said.
Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato’ Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino bin Anthony lauded the efforts of all stakeholders who are helping to move forward and build on the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process.
“I commend the efforts of the Philippine government, OPAPRU, peace panels, the Filipino Muslim community, and international partners in pursuing [for] a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao. The courage and determination you have shown in working towards peace are genuinely inspiring.”
National government’s commitment to peace
In his solidarity message, Secretary of National Defense Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. pledged his agency’s full support in realizing the aspirations of the Muslim community in the country.
“Rest assured that the entire One Defense Team, under the guidance of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., and Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr. remain steadfast in supporting the aspirations of Muslim Filipinos and all indigenous cultural communities in our country to secure their identity and posterity towards a united and strong Philippine republic.”
Purisima also encouraged everyone to continue working together and supporting the Bangsamoro peace process.
“It is our hope that the partnership between all the agencies, institutions and organizations who are gathered here today will continue to be nurtured and strengthened to carry out our collective vision of building a better and brighter future for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Before breaking the fast, a Nasiha or spiritual guidance on the observance of Ramadan was given by Imam Aleem Ahmad M. Matanog, which emphasized the importance of fasting and prayers among members of the Muslim faith.
The activity was attended by OPAPRU officials, members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front, and representatives from the security sector, civil society organizations, and diplomatic corps.###