Peace has a celestial quality, and whenever we talk and walk our peace, we are setting aside sacred time and space for this peace to grow and flourish in ourselves and in others, no matter what the circumstances may be. And this is what the Western Mindanao State University Center for Peace and Development (WMSU-CPD) has been doing all these years of its existence and continues to do being at the forefront in the promotion of the Culture of Peace at the city, regional, national and ASEAN levels.
Recognizing the efforts and other feats of CPD, the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) awarded the Center a Special Peace Citation in connection with the annual celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace.
Handing the award during fitting ceremonies held on November 29 were Fr. Angel C. Calvo, cmf, IRSMP Lead Convenor; Hadji Abdurahim K. Kenoh, Associate Muslim Convenor; and Atty. Paulino R. Ersando, Evengelical Convenor.
IRSMP affirmed the efforts of CPD in offering meaningful time and generous services to the cause of harmony and solidarity among the different multi-cultural peoples in Zamboanga City and Mindanao. It also recognized the Center’s untiring support and outstanding advocacy for peace amidst the conflict and violence in the region.
The awarding body likewise lauded the Center’s effort to develop the Culture of Peace in various institutions and in linking WMSU with the different communities that have led unity and cooperation among the Muslims, Christians and people of other ethnic cultures in the City.
CPD continues to be a venue for engaging and deepening the involvement of individuals, groups and sectors in the peace and development process. It provides a context for the critical analysis of peace issues and for promoting cooperative action on social concerns.
Sometime in December 2008, the Center collaborated with Indonesia-based PeaceTech and other stakeholders in initiating a teleconference among Muslim and Christian youths in Mindanao, with WMSU as the hub, and their counterpart in De La Salle St. Benilde, Manila. It was the first of its kind in the region, and perhaps throughout Mindanao. It was an occasion for the youths to bridge the cultural divide and promoted better and deeper understanding of each other’s fears, hopes and aspirations in the midst of the ongoing socio-political conflicts.
Furthermore, with its director, Dr. Carpizo being the National Chairperson of Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT), and in collaboration with the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police and other partner agencies and cause-oriented organizations, CPD has been doggedly promoting the safety and protection of children from human traffickers; pursuing prosecution of child traffickers; and the healing and social reintegration of trafficked children.
Some ten traffic victims have been rescued by the Zamboanga City Task Force six in 2004, two in 2008 and 2 this year. Consequently, a shelter for trafficked children has been set up under the management of Katilingban Para sa Kalambuan, Inc. (KKI) for the psycho-social healing of victims and to prepare them, as well as their families, for social reintegration.
In cooperation with other peace advocates, CPD continues to conduct trainings and capability building activities on how to handle trafficked victims, and on laws protecting children from all forms of abuses particularly under RA 9262, also known as the Violence Against Women and Children Act and RA 9208, the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2003. The Center led collaborators and stakeholders in this year’s weeklong celebration of the International Day Against Child Trafficking from December 7 to 12.
Dr. Carpizo is deeply grateful to the Center’s many committed partners: PACT; Katilingan Para sa Kalambuan, Inc. (KKI); the Women’s and Children’s Desk of the Philippine National Police; Department of Social Work and Development; City Social Welfare and Development Office; Philippine Information Agency; Bantay Bata 163; ABS-CBN; Radio Mindanao Network; IRDT; Department of Justice; Visayan Forum; Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Network (CAPIN); Akay Kalinga; Christian Children’s Fund; Kabalikat; the local government; and Peace Advocates Zamboanga; and HDES.
CPD is a brainchild of then Vice President for Research, Extension and Development, Dr. Grace J. Rebollos who was also its director until her ascendancy to the presidency of the University in 2007.
The CPD today ably manned by Dr. Marcelina Carpizo, Director; Mr. Abdul-Baqui A. Berik; Mr. Denison M. Ruste; and Ms. Marie Rachel S. de Zena. (Evelyn C. Luceño)