“There should be a total cessation of hostilities from both side because the increasing casualties among the warring forces is only driving more Christians to call for a `total war policy’ even as we alienate peace-loving Muslims and drive them to hate Christians even more – thus spreading the hostility among the civilian population,” said Kris founder Armand Dean Nocum, a Christian married to a Muslim.
Kris (www.krislibrary.com) is a non-government organization (NGO) put up by Christians and Muslims based in Manila and Mindanao. The 10-year-old NGO is engaged in the building of libraries in mixed Christian and Muslim populations to foment better understanding and trust among the two cultures and religion. Kris Libraries provide free computer lessons and use; as well as finances the schooling of bright Christian and Muslim scholars.
Two of the five libraries set up by Kris are located in Zamboanga Sibugay where fresh fightings have erupted among military and police forces and armed men believed to belong to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Seven soldiers and policemen have been killed in the fightings that followed the killing of 19 members of the Philippine Marines last week.
“The feedback we hear from our Kris members and volunteers in Mindanao is that the calls for the resumption of an all-out war policy is driving civilians on both sides to consider arming themselves to prepare for the worse. We call on the restive forces in the military and police; the ranks of the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf; as well as the general populace to exercise sobriety,” Nocum said.
Members of Kris Library yesterday joined the YAPAKapayapaan, a solidarity barefoot walk for peace at the Quezon Memorial Circle, which was initiated by former Anak Mindanao Party List Rep. Mujiv Hataman and other Muslim and Christian peace organizations based in Manila.
“Our presence here would show that both Christians and Muslims are one in condemning the killing of the military and police but at the same time we want a stop in the fighting for us to take stock of what is really happening in Mindanao and to plan out less violent means of bringing perpetrators to justice,” Nocum said.
The Kris Library founder raised fears that a total war policy sought by the military will affect civilians more and turn peace-loving Muslims victimized by war into warriors out to avenge the dead or wounded members of their family who are caught in the crossfire.
“Christians too will be affected by the war as many places in Mindanao now have mixed Muslim and Christian populace. Thus, there really is no victor in this kind of war, only casualties among the military and civilians,” Nocum said, adding that he supports the move of President Aquino to reject calls from some sectors in the military for the unleashing of the dogs of war.
Started in 2001, the Kris Library literacy advocacy has now set up five libraries in Zamboanga City, Quezon City, Rizal Province, and Zamboanga Sibugay; and donated books to several public libraries in different parts of the country.
Kris is committed to the task of spreading books; not guns in Mindanao. It is out to use education to end the culture of war and violence among people in Mindanao (please check more details about Kris Library at www.krislibrary.com).
Arizza Nocum, Kris Library Administrator
09995609435 / 3522313