Close to a thousand Basileños, braving the scourging heat of the sun, marched a 3-kilometer road on February 24, 2011 to show that violence in the province has to finally put an end.
“Walk for Peace” is one among the concrete plans that the IFCL in Basilan have undertake after series of meetings and consultation and it is a way to convey the message of unity and peace, most especially for the victims of violence.
Ms. January Zanoria, Christian Coordinator of the Interfaith Council of Leaders (IFCL) Basilan, said that the number of brave people who participated in the activity is stunningly inspiring given the latest kidnapping and shooting incidents happened in the heart of the city ofIsabela, the show-window of the province, preying on the hapless innocent victims.”Unlike before, when various leaders called the people to condemn violence the most that we can do then was to participate in a candle lightning activity anything more than that would surely send the people shiver down their spines for fear they might be the next victim. But today the Basileños have already conquered their fears. The people have spoken that violence is no place in the province”, Zanoria further said.
Mr. Leopoldo Ramirez, a 65 years old vendor for 32 years, said that this is the first time he experienced that Basileños has come out of its shell and openly condemning the barbaric acts of the criminal. “I’m glad that the people are braver today, during our time no one participates in this kind of activity for fear that the criminals will go after them,” Mr. Ramirez said in a local dialect.
Meanwhile, Sr. Lydia T. Sumampong, SFIC from the Prelature of Basilan, said that the“Walk for Peace or A Day of Prayer” as a whole was an affirmation. A sign that indeed people in Basilan are united in condemning violence thus we are willing to work for peace and reconciliation together as one community.
An active member of IFCL-Basilan, Pastor Ronald Paulino of the United Evangelical Church, prior to the event for his part said the lighting of candleswill be the culminating event which will start at 6:00 PM of the same day. “I am cordially inviting the Peace- loving Basileños to join us in prayers for the safe and immediate release of Larry Delos Santos so that we can quickly start the healing process for the sake of our province”, the Pastor added.
According to Professor Alzad Sattar, Muslim Coordinator of IFCL-Basilan and member of the influential Muslim community said that his presence is his personal way to experience healing and reconciliation unfolding before his very eyes.
The “Walk for Peace” was successfully participated in by Muslims and Christians from different sectors including students from various government and private schools, National and local government officials, local police (PNP) and Special Forces of the Philippine Army.