The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) Sulu Cluster started a social cohesion activity tagged as: “Inter-Cultural Leaders Community Visioning towards Developing Peoples Agenda” with a theme: “Social Cohesion: Viable mechanism in restoring shattered relationships in a post-conflict era” held at Notre Dame Center, Patikul, Sulu on January 6, 2021.

The activity is flagship program of CBCS in accompaniment for the success of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in laying the foundation of good governance in the Bangsamoro. It is also a means of sustaining the gains of the now forty-six years of negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Fronts in particular with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Project Coordinator emphasized that: “fixing relationships in the community or grass-root level is crucial for the success of peace process at the national level.” He even quoted Fr Jun Mercado on his 10th Memoriam Lecture on GOP-MNLF 1996 Final Peace Agreement that state among others: “Among the factor for the flaw of the agreement is failure to communicate the peace process to the community level”.

A total of forty participants coming from equally distributed from the Tausug tribe, Settlers (Christian) and the Sama-Bajau tribe.

The highlight of the activity is a community visioning process through workshops by tribes that traces the most common problems and concerns prevailing in their respective tribes, communities and beliefs including the recommended solutions as defined by the communities themselves. The problems identified are consolidated to form as common problems which the group will pursue or advocate as inter-faith or inter-cultural convergence initiatives.

As a response to the several expectations which hopes and wishes that activities such as this “will be sustained and similar activities will not be the first and last” which connotes and concerned with sustainability. Related to this, the participants asked on how they will pursue their next activities in responding to their identified common problems at their own level and capacity. On this, the participants decided to formed a loose formation of inter-cultural group that will further consolidate and prioritize their identified problems and recommendations and lay this down in a plan for systematic pursuance of their advocacy.

The group too initially called the loose convergence as “BangsaSug Inter-Cultural Convergence” group with Datu Yldon T. Kiram from the Tausug tribe as Led Convener with Mary Jane K. Albesa from the Settlers (Christians) and Faizal Dawamie from the Sama-Bajau tribe as Co-Led Conveners respectively. It was also made clear that all the participants are the initial members of the Convener Group.

In the closing impressions, all are thankful for being part of the sounds new endeavor called social cohesion. Remarkably, most thankful are the Sama-Bajau leaders as in the past, they are seldom involved in many activities such as this.

By: Al-Khalifa Jilah, CBCS Area Coordinator for Sulu Cluster