A Call for Cessation of Hostilities, Transparency and Broadened Participation

As development workers and peace advocates, we have worked with and among the marginalized sectors of Mindanao through development programs aimed at poverty alleviation and social change. Through the years, we saw how our modest efforts helped in bringing about peace and in improving the quality of life especially of those most in need.

When the news of the signing of the Memorandum Of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hit the media in July this year, we had hoped that finally, the people of Mindanao – the Lumads, the Bangsamoro people, and settlers – will attain peace and eventually prosper under a climate of tolerance and mutual respect. Despite the imperfections in content and process, we view the MOA-AD as a significant though insufficient condition towards finding a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Mindanao.

We are sad that the GRP and MILF failed to ensure the participation of people, especially those living in areas included in the MOA-AD. Moreover, the absence of transparency in the negotiations has exacerbated the existing divisions and prejudice between the Moro and non-Moro populations. These fundamental processes could have helped our national and local leaders and the Christian settler-population to realise the essential purpose of the peace process, that is, to correct the historic injustice inflicted by the colonizers upon the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples.

The turn of events following the aborted signing of the MOA-AD shattered that promise of peace. The violent clashes between MILF elements and government troops in some parts of Mindanao have yet again taken a heavy toll on the population where thousands of women, children and non-combatants are displaced and left in a state of confusion, fear and anxiety. We are alarmed by the continuing arming of civilians tolerated by local governments, which we know will worsen the violence.

We should remind ourselves that we share a common goal – the attainment of lasting peace in Mindanao and in all our land.  With this we firmly demand:

  • The cessation of hostilities
  • The GRP and MILF to return to negotiation and dialogue
  • The GRP and MILF to ensure the full participation of all stakeholders especially the Lumad, women and other marginalized communities in affected areas in deliberating substantial and procedural issues of the peace process
  • The exercise of transparency through dissemination of prompt and accurate information on the agenda and outcomes of the negotiations and creation of channels for direct feedback
  • The media, to exercise fair and balanced reporting and avoid language that reinforces cultural stereotypes and discrimination

Cebu City, 27 August 2008

Signed:

Daphne Villanueva
Christian Aid – Philippines
Quezon City

Eliazar Montero
Muslim-Christian Agency for Relief, Advocacy & Development
Cagayan de Oro

Fr. Enrico Montano
DIOPIM Committee on Mining Issues
Dipolog City

Filomeno Sta. Ana
Action for Economic Reforms
Quezon City

Timuay Noval Lambo
Gukom Sog Pito Kodolungan
Zamboanga City

Datu Migketay Saway
Panagtagbo-Mindanao
Lantapan, Bukidnon

Joey Clemente
Socio-Pastoral Institute (SPI)
Quezon City

Sultan Maguid Maruhom
Ummah Fi Salaam
Pagadian City

Carl Cesar Rebuta
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC)
Cagayan de Oro

Judy Pasimio
Legal Rights and Natural Resources
Center (LRC), Quezon City

Saturnino Oro
Bukidnon Integrated Services Assistance
Program [BISAP]
Damulog, Bukidnon

Elsa Bernardo
Community Services for Education, & Economic Development (COSEED)
Vincenzo Sagun, Zamboanga del Sur

Hadji Omar Faisal
Ranao Integrated Assistance Program
(RIAP) Marawi City

Mashor Mamolawan
Panginam O Masa (POM)
Balindong, Lanao del Sur

Maria Angela Villalba
UNLAD-Kabayan Migrant Services
Foundation, Inc., Quezon City

Gualberto Largo
Social Action Ministry-Prelature of Ipil
Zamboanga Sibugay

Gwen Rellin-Ngolaban
Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors  (FORGE)
Cebu City

Pascual Tabuac
Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes (PHILNet)- Visayas
Cebu City

Jesusa Cortez
UNLAD-Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, Inc. – LANAO

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