Organizers and participants to the Sulu Forum 2017. Also in the photos are Governor Totoh Tan and former Governor Dr. Sakur (Datu Shahbandar) Tan. (Photos by Ahl-franzie Salinas.)
SULU – Some 2,000 people attended the “Sulu Forum 2017” organized by the Sulu provincial government and the Sulu Ulama Council for Peace and Development or SUCPD in Patikul town.
The forum, held on August 9, was participated by various sectors and civil society and non-governmental organizations, including government agencies, student organizations and municipal officials. With the theme “Islam in Sulu: The call for Peace, Unity and Solidarity amidst Diversity”, is aimed at strengthening support to government peace and development efforts in the province.
Among the organizers and guests during the forum were Governor Toto Tan, former Governor Dr. Sakur (Datu ShahBandar) Tan, Ustadz Abdulmuhaimin Abubakar, Chairman of the SUCPD; Ustadz Yahiya Abdulla, President of the Famers Association in Sulu; Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu; Senior Superintendent Mario Buyuccan, the provincial police chief; Imam Saukani Kimpa, of Sabiel Al-Muhtadin; Tuan Abdugafar Mangkabong, who represented the Jamaa Tabligh; Abusaif Roger, President of Central Student Government – Sulu State College; Dr. Adjarail Hapas, Chancellor of Mindanao State University; and the Catholic church under Bishop Angelito Lampon.
Governor Tan, in his speech, encouraged everyone to unite for peace and development and to safeguard the public from extremism and radicalism. “Trials and tribulations are part of Allah’s Laws in this universe. If I may add, it’s part of creation itself. Allah puts us into situations which will test our Iman, that we may be worthy of His Mercy and Compassion. Hardships are not evil nor should they be considered as punishments. On the contrary, they are part of learning experience, reminders, and serve to purify us from our sins and mistakes, and will test our patience and perseverance,” he said.
“These are indeed tough times; challenging times which permeate to the very core of our beliefs and existence. As a way of life, Islam has been completed to us as a sign of Mercy and Compassion from Allah. Admittedly by what we read or see in the media, both social and mainstream, Islam and the Muslims are in constant defense against the onslaught of unkind reporting and the impressions they create in the minds of the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Marawi situation and the lessons we can learn from it is a wake-up call to everyone and a bitter lesson of how harmonious relationships and mutual tolerance for the diversity of cultures and faiths can, in an instant, be destroyed and crumbled by extreme ideologies in the guise of religion,” he added.
He said everyone has a responsibility in nation-building and safeguarding democracy and freedom. “Governance is the convergence of all stakeholders in common aspirations in nation-building, sharing the tasks and the responsibilities. No single individual can do it alone. The spark which ignited the many manifestations of upheavals and social unrests are the compounded frustrations of centuries of perceived neglect and injustices from the powers that be. We believe that sincere and honest intentions to correct this perception should not emanate only from the barrels of guns or by military might alone,” he said. “This reminds us of the statement by the Emir Qatar when he was asked about the rise of extremism in his region. He said it has nothing to do with religion, but with hopelessness.” (Ahl-franzie Salinas)
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