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Unity in Diversity towards Peace and Development in Philippine setting

Dr. Panda
BY DR. ALI B. PANDA, Ph.D.

Philippines is composed of people having different socio-cultural beliefs and experiences. This accepted phenomenon invites differences of opinions, reactions and attitudes among intellectuals and concerned people on how to ensure the sense of unity and nationhood since no country or place can be developed if people therein look differently.

Lawmaking body must always be impressed and inclined to act until finally a viable law that can regulate and address such phenomenon will be enacted, passed and ratified. With this, the government can effectively implement such law through its agencies responsible to work for unity in diversity. It is in this context that peace and development can take place.

Mindanao State University, for instance, was founded on September 1, 1961 through Republic Act 1387 as amended by Republic Act 1893 and mandated for this purpose in order to achieve two major objectives: 1) to facilitate the integration of the Muslim minority group into the national body politic, by providing them the opportunities of public education for their own self development, and 2) to provide trained manpower, skilled and technical know-how for the economic development of the MINSUPALA region. The idea of such creation is to make the people as active participants in all government affairs. This mandate must be assessed how far the University has done and it must be amended to incorporate significant elements to make it more viable and strong in addressing new phenomena.

Unity in diversity is indeed an acceptable concept towards peace and development. It can be made as one subject in the curricular offerings in all levels in Philippine educational system. It can also be used as theme of a series government sponsored seminars and conferences. This concept may invite our people to understand one another. This is in line with the Qur’anic verse where God says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other… (Qur’an, 49:13) This verse implies for the diverse people to know each other.

This happened during the life time of Prophet Muhammad in Madinah. He was able to unite diverse people regardless of their beliefs and experiences through continuing education in Islam and the enactment of the Madinah Charter. The latter unified them as one people. (RSP)


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