Leaders worldwide celebrate the establishment of a civilian-led peace agreement made in the Philippines 8 years ago

On January 24, 2022, over 22,000 representatives from 51 countries attended an international peace conference. The event commemorated a civilian-led peace agreement made between Islamic and Catholic communities in Mindanao, the Philippines eight years ago.

In 2014, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international NGO, mediated a conflict in Mindanao. Witnessed by HWPL Chairman Man Hee Lee, a peace agreement was signed by Hon. Esmael G. Mangudadatu, the then-governor of Maguindanao, and Archbishop-Emeritus Fernando Capalla. The province of Maguindanao and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front declared January 24th to be “HWPL Peace Day” and have commemorated it as an annual event to reaffirm international and local partnership for peacebuilding.

Peace monuments have been built honoring the agreement in Mindanao. Monuments were erected in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In 2021, peace monuments were unveiled in Cotabato City and separately in Dingras, Ilocos Norte as part of the 8th Anniversary of HWPL Peace Day. Another peace monument is set to be unveiled in February 2022.

Under the theme, “Law of Peace in Heaven and on Earth,” the January 24th event promoted religious harmony and raised support for establishing an international law for peace. Key figures gave congratulatory messages, including Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and TV News Anchor Mariz Umali.

Temple President Prabhu Mahendra Das decided to participate in the World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office organized by HWPL as “a global platform for religious leaders to talk, share, discuss, learn, and grow together harmoniously and peacefully.” He added, “I firmly believe that all religions should enter into a partnership through the form of a memorandum of understanding.”

Justice Raoul Victorino (ret), chairman of the Philippine National Prayer Breakfast (PNPB) and dean of the College of Law of Philippine Christian University (PCU), shared how he was inspired by the “revolutionary movement” that HWPL initiated to endorse global peacebuilding through the drafting of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW). He declared, “I will strive to get the support of the president of the Philippines for national solidarity and support of the DPCW. At the same time, I will integrate DPCW [education] in the college of law by collaborating with the Philippine Association of Law Schools.”

Commissioner Ronald Adamat of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shared, “The CHED Commission en Banc has issued an endorsement to President Duterte, urging him to declare January 24th as ‘National Peace Day,’ that will provide for simultaneous celebration and observance of peace through peace activities, events, and ceremonies by all instrumentalities and agencies of government.”

“Our purpose is to bring all people in the world together to create a world of peace and leave it as a lasting legacy for future generations,” said HWPL Chairman Lee during the closing remarks. “To make this world a peaceful place without wars, let us become messengers of peace. Let us remind people around the world of that emotion—a longing for peace—and the Peace Day so they can remember all of this forever.”