A Call For Sobriety

Peace Advocates’ Appeal for Sobriety

The intense reactions to the planned signing of theMemorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has already reached an alarming stage. In the last few days we have seen how the unarmed civilians from both sides of the conflict have lost properties and even lives due to attacks or harrasments by either side. The current situation has started to create social disorder brought about by some hostile posturing both from supporters and opponents of the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) which is the essence of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. With the Supreme Court issuance of Temporary Restraining Order today to stop the signing of the MOA in Kuala Lumpur, the situation on the ground points to more violence especially in Central Mindanao.

The Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), a network of major peace groups and coalitions in Mindanao appeals for sobriety and urge the parties in conflict to desist from any act that will aggravate the situation. And more importantly, for both government and MILF to observe and ensure enforcement of the ceasefire agreement at all times.

With the MOA signing taking a backseat, now is the most opportune time for government to have an honest to goodness dialogue with its constituents in order to get their acts together and to finally speak with one voice.

MILF, on the other hand, must all the more demonstrate its resolve and commitment to peace by reigning in all its constituents and prove that indeed it is speaking and doing peace not only in the negotiating table but also on the ground.

We call on all religious leaders to take the moral high ground and be consistent with the church teachings by serving as bridge builders and provide space for people to discuss the issues at hand more intelligently.

We also urge the government military command in Mindanao to stop the recruitment and training of civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) and CAFGUs at this critical time when these organizations are mobilized for specific agenda and interests only.

We most urgently make this appeal to local government executives to refrain from statements that instigate violence for fear of the unknown; but instead bring people together, educate and provide accurate information, address the roots of, but not create conflicts, and manage these conflicts in ways not harmful to people but that which respects diversity and dissenting opinion.

We are calling on both business and academic sectors to serve as links in de-escalating the tension in areas affected by the conflict. For business groups to use their influence on local politicians and be mindful of how wars and conflicts can be detrimental to business in Mindanao. And for academe to provide the venues/fora for information and education among the Moro, Christians and Lumad youths for greater solidarity and understanding.

We are especially making an appeal to the media to ensure responsible reporting and not to fan the emotions of people affected by the conflict that may lead to further deterioration of the situation in Mindanao.

We, more than ever appeal to all peace-loving Filipinos to give peace a chance in Mindanao. Also, on behalf of the communities recently affected by renewed violence in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces, we urgently seek the assistance of the Joint Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) to allow these civilians who have evacuated from their areas to return and harvest their crops at the soonest time possible before their farm products go to waste. These crops are vital for their survival especially at this very discomforting period when their displacement is going to be indefinite as the peace process suffers another setback.

We, as peace advocates commit to sustain our efforts at reaching out to all sectors affected by the conflict in Mindanao by monitoring the situation on the ground, undertaking information- dissemination on the MOA among our networks, addressing the humanitarian needs of victims of displacement and providing them education on their rights as IDPs (internally displaced persons), and in assisting in the empowerment of civilian communities in handling conflicts. We will also submit a motion in intervention to allow civil society intervenor in the oral argument before the Supreme Court. We will be particularly keen and vigilant of other forces and interests who may take advantage of the volatile situation in Mindanao and we shall remain critical of their motives or agenda.

Now that the MOA is out in the open, let us take the opportunity to read it carefully and understand it with open minds and hearts. It is the product of more than four years of negotiations by parties who are both giving up much to gain the greater prize of a just peace. It is not yet the final peace agreement, but an important step and commitment that we should all help to implement.

Mindanao Peaceweavers

4 August 2008

Sgd. Fr. Angel Calvo
Lead Convenor
Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ)

Sgd. Rey Magno Teves
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC)

Sgd. Mabel Carumba
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)

Sgd. Prof. Octavio Dinampo
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)

Sgd. Guiamel Alim
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)

Sgd. Karen Tanada
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)

Sgd. Fr. Eduardo Pedregoza
AGONG Network

Sgd. Atty. Raissa Jajurie
SALIGAN Mindanao

Sgd. Augusto N. Miclat Jr.
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

Contact: Memen Lauzon-Gatmaytan
MPW Lead Secretariat
Tel. No. (82) 299-2574 or 2574
Fax No. (082)299-2052
Mobile No. 0920-9124312

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