Reports here said that world religionists have held a dialogue with leaders of the MILF led by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and his chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan that began at around 3:30 p.m. up to almost nightfall.
The WCRP delegation of seventeen or more so was led by Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Asst. Secretary General, Religions for Peace based in New York, USA; Rev. Tea Sung Kim, Asst. Secretary General, Religions for Peace Asia/ACRP in South Korea.
Two other Asian foreign visitors were identified as Rev. Koichi Matsumoto, Special Advisor to the Secretary General for Youth Affairs, and Yoshinori Shinohara, member of the Asian Inter-religious Youth Network.
Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, convenor of the Bishop-Ulama Conference, Bishop Hilario Gomez Jr. from the Protestant Church and Dr. Hammid Barra from Ulama Council of the Philippines led the Filipino delegation.
In the meeting, the WCRP had taken up with the MILF about the Asian Summit of Religious Youth Leaders in Mindanao on Oct. 2008 and possibilities of how they can help in the peace process and the conflict transformation, peace-building and sustainable development.
According to reports, Murad told WCRP visitors that technically the talks is on track but it is the government that is causing the delay by assembling another group of lawyers who will study the draft of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain.
The MILF chairman also told them that the conflict in Mindanao is not religious in essence but political that requires a political solution, which the parties to the talks have not yet started after more than a decade of talks.
Lawyer Michael Mastura, a member of the MILF peace panel, backed Murad's statement, citing among things, the burning of mosques, copies of the Qur'an, and madrasahs by soldiers that introduced the religious spectrum into the conflict.
Dr. Estrella Babano, directress of Department of Education (DepEd) Region 10, informed the group that she, in cooperation with Churchmen and political leaders in Lanao del Norte, is offering to host the youth conference this year in Tubod town.
Archbishop Capalla, once victim of a deadly bomb explosion few years ago in Davao City, told the group that he thinks that there are groups who do not want the problem in Mindanao solved.
WCRP is an affiliate of the United Nation (UN) and an umbrella organization where all world religious are represented, especially Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism, Buddhism, Zoroastrian, Jain, Hinduism, Shintoism, Sikh and many others from over 16 countries Asia and the Pacific.
It had taken active role in the resolution of world conflict situations from Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and many more. Its first act of concern for the conflict in Mindanao started as early as 1977 during Martial Law when the group made a detailed report and circulated globally.
Among the more prominent Muslim personalities involved in the WCRP are Dr. Ahmad Mohammad Shariff of Libya, Dr. Omar Naseef, former Secretary General of the World Muslim League in Mecca, Saudi Arabia; Prince Rashid Bin El Hassan of Jordan, chairman of Jordanian Hashemoite Charity, and Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad of Iran.
In its official website, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the late Pope John Paul II had expressed support to the WCRP, believing that the conference could help in the promotion of dialog thereby creating bonds of friendship among peoples.
The conference has been involved in reconciling communities divided by conflicts and wars in recent years. It was first convened in Kyoto in 1970. It hopes that world religionists join the conference to share their goals and contribute to world peace.
In 1994, the WCRP established six commissions in the areas of conflict transformation and reconciliation; human rights and responsibilities; the child and the family; development and ecology; disarmament and security; and peace education.