Updates Per Peace Table

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Xavier University honors Deles, other peace builders


 
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) in Cagayan de Oro City bestowed honors to Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and peace panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal in recognition of their huge contributions to peace building in Mindanao.
 
The honors to the three peace builders were conferred during Xavier’s 76th commencement exercises on Thursday, March 26.‎
 
In conferring the Doctor in Humanities to Deles, the Xavier University cited her “exceptional and remarkable contributions as a trustworthy public servant and strong-willed pioneer in the development sector of the Philippines, her sincere heart for the welfare of women, poor, and the marginalized.”
 
Above all, the citation added, the honor was given to the OPAPP Secretary “for her work in peace building in the country and especially in Mindanao.”
 
Peace panel chairs Coronel-Ferrer and Iqbal were also recipients of Xavier University’s Fr. William F. Masterson, SJ Award this year.
 
The university cited Coronel-Ferrer’s exemplary contributions to peace-building and conflict management in the country and as a champion of human rights.
 
Iqbal was also honored for his “conscientious and patient efforts to engage in democratic dialogue and negotiations for peace in Mindanao” and for his “untiring work towards negotiated political solution that eschews the ways of extremism and terrorism, and for his unflinching and heartfelt service to bring peace and progress to the country.”
 
In her response after receiving the honorary doctorate, Deles expressed gratitude to the Trustees of Xavier University for their “steadfast advocacy of peace in Mindanao”.
 
The earlier decision of the Trustees of said university to award the honors to Deles, Coronel-Ferrer and Iqbal were questioned by some quarters in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident.
 
“Media reports tell us that some quarters have questioned the wisdom of honoring at your commencement exercises three personalities caught in the eye of that very storm.  That is why I find doubly heartwarming Xavier University’s decision to stand by its invitation and to confer on my colleagues the Fr. William Masterson SJ Award and on myself an Honorary Doctorate in the Humanities – which, I must confess, truly thrills me because there is no other way I could ever earn a postgraduate degree,” Deles said.
 
She also called on her fellow advocates for peace to stand firm despite the difficulties that the peace negotiation has gone through for the past months.
 
“Indeed, in our pursuit of peace, we must be steadfast.  We must be careful and we must stand fast – especially when assailed by the frenzy of words and emotions that can and does harm to, rather than help, the cause of peace in Mindanao,” Deles pointed out.
 
She also emphasized the need to end the decades of war in Mindanao that have already cost the lives of more than 150,000 Filipinos.
 
On the latest offensives against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Deles noted the 100,000 evacuees that need around Two Million Pesos daily for survival.
 
“But the statistics are chilling if we start counting from the year 2000 throughout most of the decade, when war became a way of life and evacuation was synonymous with survival for whole population in Central Mindanao and elsewhere,” she said.
 
Deles also stressed the reasons why the GPH panel defends the peace process with the MILF which she said was grounded on the fact that “for three years the ceasefire held, the beleaguered families and communities experienced a sense of normalcy, planting their crops and harvesting them, enrolling their ten-year olds in first grade, buying pots and pans and new clothes, daring to dream for their children’s future.”
 
She added that we can easily count the number of deaths, figure out the budgets of the displaced and treat the injured but still “there are wounds that cannot heal.”
 
On their part, both panel chairs Coronel-Ferrer and Iqbal expressed gratitude to the honors they received and vowed their untiring convictions to continue to work for peace in Mindanao.
 
In his closing remarks, Xavier University president Fr. Roberto Yap SJ said that their institution will continue to support endeavors devoted to peace and development in Mindanao.