Lay community promotes peace, diversity through obstacle run

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MANILA, June 30, 2013—In an attempt to support the ongoing peace process in Mindanao, a lay community organized an obstacle run to promote peace and diversity among Filipinos amid the decades-old Muslim insurgency in the south.

Community Sant’Egidio, a public lay organization within the Catholic Church, organized an obstacle run dubbed as “Manila in a Pace for Peace: Fit for Life” at the Quirino Grandstand on Saturday to promote lasting peace in the country despite differences between the government and Muslim secessionist groups.

Mary Grace Candol, National Representative of Community Sant’Egidio, said that their main purpose for organizing the event is to gather a mixed group of Muslims and Christians to give them the chance and opportunity to understand peace in a fun-filled perspective.

According to Candol, the obstacles in the run symbolize those individuals who are not willing to participate or cooperate in making the peace talks succeed.

“When people tend not to participate or cooperate, you find them as part of obstacles. The same goes with the peace process. If there are government agencies or people not willing to participate, cooperate, or try to understand what peace is all about, [that’s what happened]. There is no peace to understand in the first place,” she said.

Government agencies such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Department of Justice, Bureau of Fire Protection, Manila Police District, Philippine Coast Guard, Parole and Probation Administration, and the City of Mandaluyong expressed support in the activity.

Quest for lasting peace 

Capt. Jesus Dela Cruz Jr., AFP 704th Battalion Ex-O, said that revolt and uprising against the government occur primarily because of poverty and unequal distribution of wealth among Filipinos, as manifested by the high rate of insurgency in poverty-ridden areas.

He said that the government settles the long-standing insurgency by bridging differences among people through education, livelihood, and employment opportunities to far-flung provinces in the country.

Dela Cruz added that lay initiatives such as this obstacle run contribute in urging groups to bring their trust back to the government and promoting the success of peace negotiations in the country.

“This greatly contributes to the promotion of a successful peace process. Through fairly sharing power, liberty, and equity, we can attain lasting peace in the country,” he said.

“We just have to continue this kind of effort so that our separatist brothers and sisters would see that the government is open for reconciliation with them,” Dela Cruz added.

Approximately 700 individuals from different public and private sector groups, schools, and colleges registered for the event in an attempt to contribute to its cause while making their bodies fit. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

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