A Stimulating Meeting of the IFCL Zamboanga | April 13, 2011

The Inter-Faith Council of Leaders (IFCL) in Zamboanga city meets in the afternoon of every first Saturday of the month in the Silsilah Center on Gov. Alvarez Ave. For each meeting the group follows this agenda:

The Inter-Faith Council of Leaders (IFCL) in Zamboanga city meets in the afternoon of every first Saturday of the month in the Silsilah Center on Gov. Alvarez Ave. For each meeting the group follows this agenda:

SHARE information about IFCL and Silsilah matters for all the members to know about
THINK about an issue relevant to the objectives of IFCL. This is then discussed.
EXPERIENCE of a relevant nature is shared by someone in the group for the whole group to hear about and comment on
PRAYER is shared.

The first letters of the items in the agenda spell the acronym STEP. The meeting on April 2, 2011 was a well attended one. A special guest at the meeting was a representative of the Consul Mr. Adriano Stefanutti of the Italian Embassy in Manila.

Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, the IFCL Convenor, was happy to inform the group that after a quest for the right spot the ZC Mayor Celso L. Lobregat had approved the location where the Harmony Post will be erected. This is in the western end of the road median of the R.T. Lim Boulevard. The Harmony Post is a marker that Silsilah erects in a spot to remind people of the importance of dialogue between peoples of different faiths and cultures. A Harmony Post has been also constructed in a place near the Provincial Capitol of Sulu. Other information had to do with the 2011 Silsilah Summer Courses.

A very lively discussion was on the matter of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the peace process. The discussion focused mainly on two areas: the need for electoral reform and the impact this will have on the on-going peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The discussion on the first area was prompted by the issue of whether to postpone the election for ARMM set for August 2011 so that it will synchronize

with the national election in 2013 or to hold the election as scheduled.

There was general agreement as to the need for electoral reform for the country and specifically for the ARMM. The differing opinions were on which specific areas of the election process need to be reformed and how these can be carried out so that the desired results are achieved.

There were also concerns expressed as to the progress, or lack of it, in connection with the ongoing peace talks. Since a number of those present were people with wide experience in the dynamics of politics in Muslim Mindanao (e.g. Ismael “Pochong” Abubakar, Edward I. Lim) the discussion was a rich exchange of opinions and ideas.

Engr. Santiago “Sonny” Navarro shared his experiences of leadership in Zamboanga City since coming back to the city to retire after many years of residence and a career in the USA. It was good to hear of his experiences because it was also a learning situation for the others.

Mr. Stefanutti gave some comments and these had to do mainly with feedback about the Filipino community in Italy. He said that there are about 200,000 Filipinos in Italy about 10% of whom are still working out their documents to make their stay in Italy legal. He said that the Filipino community is one of the most peaceful expat groups in the country and are much appreciated for their disposition and work attitudes. He also mentioned that the Italian government has earmarked about 23M Euros for developmental assistance for the Philippines.

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