Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ will offer his reflections and insights on the Zamboanga conflict in a forum entitled “Post-Zamboanga Siege: Reflections and Lessons Learned Toward a Hopeful Future.” The forum, initiated by the Arrupe Office of Social Formation (AOSF), will be held on Friday, 29th November 2013, at 3:40-5:40 p.m. at the Finster Auditorium.  Fr. Alejo is a member of the Zamboanga City’s Crisis Management Committee (CMC) at the height of the Zamboanga conflict that aroused from 9th to 28th September of this year. It may well be remembered that the conflict in Zamboanga City was precipitated when the forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), under the faction of the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, Nur Misuari, laid siege to some barangays in the city, resulting to the displacement of thousands of civilians and the eventual burning of hundreds of residential and business establishments in the wake of the MNLFs retreat.

Paring Bert, as others are wont to call him (a moniker he actually prefers), is a renowned Jesuit good governance champion and peace builder/advocate who tirelessly spent a greater part of his priestly ministry promoting the same in this region of the Philippines and beyond.  He also happens to be a key figure in the Ehem! Anticorruption Movement which is a national campaign on anticorruption and good governance initiated by the Society of Jesus.  His religio-social ministry embraces an assortment of noble causes aside from his advocacy on peace.  As a cultural anthropologist, his passion also inspires him in promoting the rights and culture of the IPs, providing support group to cancer victims and survivors, promoting social research, writing and composing alternative songs that celebrate a life of integrity, among other things. He is recognized Public Intellectual and who is currently the Assistant to the President for Social Development in the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU). Fr. Alejo spent a good many years in the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), shepherding the then Research and Publication Office (RPO), the precursor of the University Research Council (URC).

This forum and other synchronized events inclusive of 29th November until 4th December 2013, are collaborative efforts of many organizations in the university to celebrate this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP).  The Arrupe Office banners the same message of peace and development which the Bishops Ulama Conference (BUC) and other peace advocates/agents have been promoting. This year’s MWOP themeDialogue and Hope – Our Key to Peace” is therefore a timely and appropriate occasion to reflect on the raging conflicts that have ravaged this region in previous months, and at the same time, offer much needed reflection of hope and solidarity through the many avenues for dialogue that have arisen in the course of these recent outbreaks of violence. Hence, the talk of Paring Bert is a fitting complementary reflection to Mindanao’s much longed/hoped for roadmap to peace.

As an appropriate recap of the reflections offered during the talk of Paring Bert, there will be a short ritual of candle-lighting and prayer to be held at the Roxas Gate entrance immediately following the forum.

The university community is, therefore, enjoined to celebrate the spirit of this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace.  (By M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy)