Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two Philippine military generals get Ateneo special awards for peace

Ateneo de Zamboanga University President Fr. Antonio Moreno speaks to participants during a peace forum attended by Lieutenant Generals Raymundo Ferrer and Benjamin Dolorfino in Zamboanga City on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. The two generals are recipients of the Ateneo special awards. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 10, 2010) – Two senior military commanders were given special awards by a Jesuit-run university for their contribution to peace in the southern Philippines.

The Ateneo Peace and Culture Institute cited various accomplishments of Lieutenant Generals Raymundo Ferrer, of the Army; and Benjamin Dolorfino, of the Marines, that largely contributed to peace in the troubled region of Mindanao.

Ferrer, who was a former battalion officer in Basilan province, is the current commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, who was appointed administrator of martial law in Maguindanao province last year following the brutal killings of 57 people, including at least 31 journalists, by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the scion of a powerful political clan in Mindanao.

The Ateneo de Zamboanga University cited Ferrer’s stint in Basilan several years ago and said his tour of duty in the province widened his perspective on the complexities of the Mindanao conflicts.

“His dialogues in the island provided him with a new outlook on how to better address these conflicts. This awareness, strengthened by his realizations in the Mindanao Peace Institute and Center for Bridging Leadership, led him to initiate programs to prepare his command to do peace-building work.”

“He played a critical role in the implementation of the GRP-MILF ceasefire agreement and was instrumental in the restoration and preservation of law and order in the aftermath of the tragedy in Maguindanao,” the Ateneo de Zamboanga University said.

GRP-MILF is the acronym for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is fighting for a separate rule in Mindanao and is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

Ferrer is based in Davao City and commands half of Mindanao region. “I cannot find any word to express my gratitude to Ateneo University. We will continue our peace advocacy and promote peace throughout Mindanao,” he said.

While Dolorfino, a former Marine commandant, is the chief of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City and his meritorious military career is tempered by compassion and is guided by the belief that conflicts can be managed through non-violent measures, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University said.

“He has worked with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process as Chairman of the Joint Action Group in the peace process with the MILF and he was also a facilitator in the peace initiatives with the MNLF .”

“Engaging multi-culturally diverse stakeholders using the Bridging Leadership framework, he believes that the root causes of the conflict must be collectively understood, owned, then resolved through peaceful means,” it said.

MNLF stands for the Moro National Liberation Front, a Muslim rebel group which signed a peace agreement with the Filipino government in 2006.

Dolorfino, for his part, also thanked the Ateneo de Zamboanga University and vowed to continue peace-building efforts in the restive region. “We are all for peace. This is a universal advocacy,” he said.

The Ateneo Peace and Culture Institute envisions a united community of tri-people that understand and appreciate diversity and that collaborate for genuine peace and human development.

It also aims to promote the culture of peace amidst the multicultural and multi-religious backdrop of the academe and of society.

The APCI is actively engaged in peace-building through its programs on education, advocacy, and research that seek to transform values, attitudes, and behavior toward the achievement of a culture of peace.

Earlier on Wednesday, both Ferrer and Dolorfino attended a forum at the Ateneo de Zamboanga which was participated by faculty members headed by Father Antonio Moreno, the university president; and students. (Jung Francisco and Bryan Cachon contributed to this report)

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