Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan leads the “Bike for Peace” to mark this year’s Mindanao Peace Week in Kidapawan City on Nov. 30. PHOTO FROM DIOCESE OF KIDAPAWAN

By CBCP News

Dec 3 2020

KIDAPAWAN CITY, South Cotabato – The head of the Catholic Church’s social action office has called for respect of “peace spaces” in conflict areas in southern Philippines.

Speaking at the observance of Mindanao Peace Week on Monday, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan said that everyone deserves a “genuine sense of security and safety”.

“I am suggesting … neutral, public places to be declared as peace spaces,” said Bagaforo, who is the national director of Caritas Philippines.

Among these spaces, according to the prelate, include churches, mosques, schools, hospitals, market places and sports centers.

“There must not be any incident of violence or disagreement in these areas, that will harm innocent bystanders, ruin public infrastructures, and negatively affect the delivery of basic social services,” he said.

Bagaforo, however, stressed that the realization of peace “must not only be limited to these spaces”.

He called on the people to look at one another with “compassion and kindness” and “to see people from the other side as our brothers and sisters, instead of enemies”.

“So we will see the places we are in as common spaces where respect and trust are paramount, not as battlefields,” he added.

The event was highlighted with a “Bike for Peace” led by the bishop and joined by around 900 bikers.

The Mindanao Week of Peace is an annual celebration, which started in 2001 through a Proclamation issued by former President Gloria Arroyo.

It aims “to recognize the common aspirations of Mindanaoans to live in peace, unity, and harmony with each other regardless of status in life, religion or culture.”

Bagaforo said that one of Caritas’ agenda is to promote a “culture of respect for life so eventually we will be able to live in peace”.

“Hopefully, with everyone’s help, we will be able to experience this in our lifetime,” he said. – CBCPNEWS