Pakighinabi: On the Moro Killings in South Cotabato, 2020-2021

[Welcome Remarks, June 30, 2021]

To the representatives of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace and Reconciliation, Sec. Carlito Galvez, to the Honorable Reynaldo S. Tamayo Jr., Governor of South Cotabato, to the representatives of the BARMM, the Philippine National Police, Civil Society Organizations, and to bereaved relatives of people allegedly killed in South Cotabato, and to all the participants in this Pakighinabi:

Good morning.

On February 14, 2019, just shy of two-and-a-half years ago, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed al Tayyeb, issued jointly the Document for World Peace and Living Together. It is a document that has since inspired many dialogues for peace, as it does today’s dialogue or pakighinabi.  It has been formally adopted by the OPAPP and formally received with gratitude by Chief Minister of the BARMM Ahod Murad Ebrahim.    

Representing Christian Communities from the east to the west and Muslim communities from the east to the west, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam, in  the name of God and of all who have suffered or continue to suffer through violence and wars attributed to religion or to religiously-characterized ethnicities, declared “the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual collaboration as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.”  A culture of dialogue, not a culture of killing.  Reciprocal collaboration, not reciprocal destruction.  Reciprocal understanding, not reciprocal demonization.

Peace is killed, when human killing kills dialogue, when destruction kills collaboration, and demonization others the human other.

Indeed, The Document on Fraternity expresses the shared commitment of Christians and Muslims together “to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflict, violent decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.”

I believe it is in this spirit that we come together today: “to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflict, violent decay…”  Indeed, we should have come together long ago.  For the list of those who have been killed in Polomolok and Tupi, South Cotabato – today 64 and all Muslim – is already too long, too reprehensible, too shameful.  Ominous and ignominious too the allegations that these killings are executed by people claiming to belong if not actually belonging to State security forces.  Could people sworn to protect the people as citizens of the Philippines be engaged in summary execution as alleged?  Could servants of our State be involved in a type of ethnic cleansing?  If so, at whose behest?

Today, in dialogue, we will listen to the victims of violence.  As well as to the keepers of the peace, the Philippine National Police, to representatives of the BARMM and of local and national government.  From listening, we wish to discover how we can collaborate for peace. How can we collaborate in finding the truth and doing justice in truth.   No one is exempt from this collaboration.  From collaboration we wish to better understand how shared  humanity binds us in Fraternity, and how bowing to the one God who creates us all sisters and brother in his creation, obligates us in social friendship to insist on peace – not the peace of the graveyard but the peace that comes from actively living together in the freedom of the children of God.


About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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