August 15, 2007
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has welcomed with deep appreciation the view expressed by Congressman Antonio Floirendo-Lagdameo (Lakas- Davao del Sur) calling on the media to stop using religious affiliation as tag to characterize groups fighting the government in Mindanao. Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF Committee on Information, told Luwaran in an interview that such view is not common among Filipino legislators, many of whom want the problem in
Mindanao settled through the use of force.
This is a simple gesture but means a lot of difference in our life, he commented.
Lagdameo was reacting to several local and international news reports of the fighting between Philippine government forces and what media terms as Muslim rebels in the various
areas in Mindanao.
We already know that the members of the MILF and MNLF are Muslims, but must media constantly harp on this fact? This practice plays on the religious aspect of the conflict and makes it harder for those involved in the community to find a solution, he added.
He added that the differences between both sides stem more from the numerous social, economic and political problems in the country than those imagined religious overtones that some media people insist in playing up.
Mindanao has so much to offer and if we just focus on building on these potentials I am sure we can settle this conflict once and for all. What all Mindanaoans want is just to be able to have the opportunity to live in peace and be productive within our own communities. We hope that the media can be our partner in this cause, the lawmaker said further.
The lawmakers views were also endorsed by William Banzali of the Center For Just Peace, a Mindanao-based multi-sectoral peace advocacy group, saying: We agree with Rep. Lagdameo when he says that the on-going conflict between the government and certain sectors of the community in Mindanao is more of a socio-economic and political problem. We hope the media will also start seeing it for what it is, instead of making it worse by injecting religion.