De Venecia bats for revival of Muslim-Christian conferences

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2017 05:14 PM | Updated as of Jun 12 2017 05:22 PM

MANILA - Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue Jose De Venecia Jr., on Monday said interfaith dialogues must be implemented again as these may be key to solving the crisis in Mindanao.

The Bishops-Ulama Conference, which was composed of Catholic bishops, Ulama and Ustadz, and Protestant bishops and pastors, was formed in November 1996 but "has not continued over the last few years," according to De Venecia.

The conference, he said, is "is the best meeting place for Christians and Muslims," and will work especially in Mindanao, which is currently under martial rule after clashes erupted between government forces and local extremists, Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

"It will mobilize the moderate Muslim communities and the Christians and begin to isolate the extremists," De Venecia told ANC's Headstart.

"In the same way that the extremists were so isolated, the Abu Sayyaf, that they are only limited to Basilan and parts of Sulu because of the active participation of the moderate Muslims and the Christians," he added.

Weeks after the fighting in the southern city of Marawi, Lanao del Sur started, peace remains elusive for thousands of Christian and Muslim residents in the so-called Muslim Capital of the Philippines.

Military officials had said troops were doing their best to liberate Marawi in time for Monday, when the Philippines will celebrate 119 years since it broke free from Spaniard colonization.