, November 7, 2005
(STAR) (For the week ending November 06, 2005) - Belated greetings to our brother and sister Muslims who recently celebrated Eidíl Fitr, which marked the end of the month-long Ramadhan.

The Muslim holiday was first officially observed in 2002 but only in the ARMM area. It has since been observed as a national holiday.

The national observance of the Muslim feast reflects this administrationís belief in inter-faith dialogue to build a national community founded on civility and oneness with humanity and God. In the global arena, the President spearheaded the resolution in the United Nations last year for the adoption of inter-faith dialogue and cooperation as a means to resolve conflicts among nations.

When President Gloria presided over the UN Security Council meeting last September, she brought the same message: In a world of clashing civilizations, dialogue is the paramount tool to pull together our commonalities for a more secure, safe and peace and peaceful world.

It is no wonder that given this policy, the peace efforts in Mindanao are moving successfully. The guns have been silent in Mindanao for some time, thanks in no small measure to Bishop-Ulama conference initiatives. Thanks also to the International Monitoring Team sent by Malaysia, Libya and Brunei.

Believe it or not, in an atmosphere of relative peace and quiet, ARMM registered its highest growth rate this year.


A number of Filipinos overseas, particularly those who have access to The Filipino Channel and other Filipino news in their homes, have sent me messages expressing alarm over what they perceive as dangerous and alarming local developments. Apparently, they had watched footage of the recent demonstrations at Mendiola where, predictably, the instigation and provocation by the rallyists had resulted in skirmishes with law enforcers.

It is regrettable that some groups persist in using their constitutional freedoms to sow disorder. While they profess to speak for reforms on behalf of the masses, they are in fact, setting back these reforms by contributing to negative perceptions about our country and our people both here and abroad. It cannot be overemphasized that, as a people, we must cease these self-destructive behaviors and channel all our energy and passion into positive and transformative action.


There is now a growing concern world-wide over the recent deaths of five persons who were affected by the bird flu. The worst that can happen now is for everyone to panic without knowing the facts. Ignorance of the facts and the ways and means to deal with the problem aggravates our fears.

The carriers of the disease are migratory birds. It is transmitted through avian nasal secretion or dried pulverized bird feces. To keep flocks such as chickens and ducks from contracting the disease, measures must be taken to keep them from coming in contact with migratory birds. Bird watchers are advised to take extra precaution by maintaining a safe distance and refrain from handling wild, exotic birds.

Our poultry are safe so there is no need to worry about buying and eating chicken.

But we do have to take precautionary measures. Disenfectant foot Ďbathsí are standard measures being instituted in airports and ports. Local health inspectors regularly monitor the state of health of poultry located in their respective areas of jurisdiction. And if there is any hint of possible contamination of chickens and other domestically raised fowl, our health inspectors are to alert Avian Flu Czar Ding Panganiban and his team would know what measures to take.


In due respect to the victim and to the criminal justice system, we ask the Presidentís critics not to use this tragic incident as a springboard for political grandstanding. Let justice take its course, unerringly and undeterred by political color. We must follow the path of reason and due process in line with the high interest and dignity of our country, the cry for impartial justice for the victim and the rights of the accused.

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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