Church, religious groups support NGOs vs terror claims
Catholic and other religious leaders on Tuesday joined together to dispel accusations hurled against the two non-government organizations (NGOs) earlier accused of running schools in the country that harbor Turkish terrorists.
The accusations last week came from Turkish Ambassador to Manila Esra Cankorur, who accused the NGOs of being terrorist fronts.
No less than former Education Secretary and De La Salle University President Bro. Armin A. Luistro expressed support for the NGOs in a statement sent from out of town.
Likewise, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) led a group of four religious and lay Catholic organizations during a press conference on Tuesday to express support for the Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc. (ICAD) and Pacific Dialogue Foundation, Inc. (PDF), NGOs which run the Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School in Zamboanga City and the Fountain International Schools in Metro Manila.
Bro. Armin said: “I have never had any doubt that both ICAD and PDF are legitimate foundations that share our Filipino values of peace through education and a deep respect for our common humanity despite differences in cultures, beliefs and traditions. Both ICAD and PDF have been working quietly in their own way to build such an environment through their educational programs here in the Philippines.”
“I have never had any reason to link their operations here with alleged terror groups locally as this would seem totally in conflict with their on-going advocacies and programs on peace-building,” said Bro. Armin.
The Church and lay leaders cited the ICAD and PDF for their numerous programs and projects in partnership with religious groups and the government for charitable causes and to promote peace and understanding among the Christian, Muslim and other major faiths.
Likewise, the group debunked as false the terror charges hurled by Cankorur in the media last week.
Attending the press conference in support of the two NGOs were Fr. Carlos Reyes, Executive Secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue; Dr. Potre Diampuan, Regional Coordinator of the United Religions Initiative South East Asia-Pacific; Dr. Tess Ramiro, President of Catholic lay group Aksyon Para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan (Action for Peace and Justice) Center for Active Non-Violence for Philippines, Inc.; Shariah lawyer Harun Ali, secretary general of the Imam Council of the Philippines; and Marites Guingona-Africa, founder and president of the Peacemakers’ Circle Inc., an active inter-faith dialogue organization.
Bro. Armin also praised the quality of education in the NGOs’ schools.
“I have admired their culturally-sensitive programs within an atmosphere of academic excellence where the values for respect of divergent cultures and faiths lead to a more wholistic education for both Filipino and foreign students,” he said.
The religious and lay leaders’ said their show of support for the two NGOs and their schools were a result of tested partnerships between them to promote interfaith dialogue so that conflicts resulting from misunderstanding can be resolved peacefully and equitably.
They said their appearance before the media sprang from their firm belief in the mission and performance of the two NGOs, since they said these have consistently undertaken programs and projects to improve the lives of Filipinos via charitable works and the provision of better education.
Meanwhile, officials from the NGOs’ schools stressed that they do not teach religion. These schools accept students of all religious backgrounds as ICAD’s mandate is to promote peace and understanding through education among people of diverse cultures. JPV
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