By Francis Wakefield
As the Muslim holiday of Eid’l Fitr approaches, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) spearheaded an inter-agency mobile peace caravan aimed at bringing the government closer to the people of Marawi City.
Dubbed “Convergence Peace Caravan: A time for healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation,” the three-day caravan is a one-stop-shop of socio-economic services offered to the conflict-affected communities.
Highlighting the practice of Zakat or alms-giving, the activities range from medical missions to peace conversations for social healing of internally displaced persons (IDPs), OPAPP Conflict Prevention Unit Director Ferdinand Jovita said the peace caravan is in Marawi City is being done “as a symbol of our solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters who follow Ramadan.”
Jovita said one of the main aspects of Ramadan is charity, especially to those who are in need. He also said one of the traditions is to bring sacks of rice to the communities.
Helping make the activity possible were Task Force Bangon Marawi, Philippine Army’s Hijab Troopers, World Food Program, World Health Organization (WHO), Mindanao Organization for Social and Economic Progress Inc. (MOSEP Inc.), Initiative for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), and Eagles Inc. Rotary Club.
The joint effort, which started on Monday and will end on Wednesday, brings government services and humanitarian support closer to the barangays of Wawalayan Calocan, Calocan West and Calocan East, Papandayan Kaniyogan, Papandayan, and Kabasaran in Lanao del Sur.
Corporal Marichu Benosa, a member of the Hijab Troopers which has been giving psychosocial support to children in Marawi, said she is hopeful the caravan will help the IDPs achieve normalcy.
“As we transition our focus from psychosocial interventions to distribution of goods, we hope that this event would bring forth sustainable development among the IDPs so that they can go back to their normal lives,” she said.
Local government units of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte also gave their support by providing free processing of birth certificates and other basic documents.
The Association of Barangay Captains of Marawi City expressed its gratitude and support for the activity.
“On June 12 last year, we held a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall even though the battle in Marawi was still raging. Now, the presence of residents who have returned is a symbol that Marawi is rising up again,” the group said in a statement.
It also thanked the military, police, OPAPP, and other government agencies for not leaving the Marawi residents during their time of great need.
The peace caravan is in line with OPAPP’s “Duyog Ramadan Alang sa Kalinaw,” a 10-day solidarity event that aims to help rebuild the social fabric and foster unity and harmony among the people of Marawi.
Duyog Ramadan started on June 5 and will end on June 15.