Community processes strengthened in MPW agenda-building

COTABATO CITY- “Life without hunger or displacement, where there is equal opportunity for everyone and where the ancestral domain of Moro and indigenous peoples are genuinely respected and upheld, and where the propriety rights of settlers are recognized”, are the emerging consensus points in the ongoing Central Mindanao area consultation on the Mindanao Peoples Peace Agenda (MPPA).

The MPPA, a flagship project of the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), is a process of consensus building that intends to help facilitate a common understanding and develop unified action in addressing the peace and conflict issues in Mindanao.

The same sentiment echoes the results of a previous MPPA consultation in Western Mindanao held in Zamboanga City last December. The two area consultations tackled results of earlier consultations of the MPW member networks. MPW is composed of seven peace networks in Mindanao with one based in Metro Manila.

Guiamel Alim, Chairman of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), an MPW lead convenor and host of the current Central Mindanao consultation, averred that the MPPA is a platform for continuing dialogue among peoples in Mindanao which goes beyond any peace talks. “We are in fact creating a social movement for peace”, Alim stressed in his opening remarks at the consultation as he re-affirmed the commitment of CBCS to the MPPA process and the MPW vision. Alim said that the MPPA does not intend to supplant or replace existing and similar processes such as the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but will in fact affirm these while trying to identify gaps that may still surface.

MPW is the largest and broadest peoples peace coalition in Mindanao that evolved a community-based process of consensus building for the drafting of the MPPA as early as 2006 to provide a venue for learning and dialogue among peoples in Mindanao.

“The MPPA is actually a convergence of the advocacies of the member networks of MPW”, said Dr. Hubaida Mamalinta, President of the SOCSARGEN Cluster Area of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM), another MPW network member.

Participants from Moro, indigenous peoples and settlers from MPW networks all over Mindanao joined the Cotabato, Zamboanga and the earlier seven network consultations. Aside from CBCS and MPPM, MPW includes the Inter-religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) based in Zamboanga; Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC); AGONG network convened by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) and the Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN) which is based in Manila.

Leonardo Bautista, Balay Mindanaw Program Officer and MPAC member said that the MPPA has not only provided space for the different networks to share but has also opened doors of opportunities to improve and deepen the existing efforts for peace and development in Mindanao. “The effort of groups to have a collective Mindanao Peoples Peace Agenda should strengthen our passion to continue to build peace in Mindanao here and now”, he said.

Meanwhile, Ruby Rose Lora, Program Manager of the Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Program (CPPB) of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) said that “The MPPA is a viable contribution to strengthen and continue engagement on the peace process.” IID is the lead secretariat of the MPW along with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Technical Assistance Center for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor (TACDRUP) and Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN-Mindanaw). Lora added that the results of the MPPA will hopefully complement and enrich other existing processes and agendas specially as it is reflective of the basic and common aspirations of the peoples in Mindanao for peace.

The MPPA has since facilitated increased engagement of civil society and grassroots communities in policy making processes, both at the local and national levels. At least seven MPW member network consultations covered the provinces of Zamboanga, Bukidnon, Misamis, Surigao, Saranggani, Davao, Compostela Valley, Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat. Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi- Tawi and Metro Manila.

Gus Miclat, IID Executive Director also said the MPW through the MPPA hopes to develop and strengthen a peace constituency that will consciously demand and work for peace and human security to become a matter of policy for Mindanao. “We are developing a critical mass of a peace constituency that can help develop a common agenda for peace,” he stressed.

Miclat’s colleague, Sammy Gamboa, IID’s Right to Self Determination (RSD) Program Manager pointed out that beyond peace negotiations, the MPPA is an agenda which should spell out in clear terms the RSD of the Bangsamoro and lumads and MPW’s support and advocacy of such right.

The MPW is gearing up for the MPPA Peoples’ Assembly to provide a venue for presentation and validation of the results of the consultations. It will also be a forum for MPW member networks to arrive at consensus points for policy advocacy. The MPPA will then be socialized and advocated among MPW constituents and partners. It will also be lobbied to all major stakeholders of the Mindanao peace process including candidates to the coming elections in May.

“The MPPA is a birthing process and needs to be nurtured”, chimed the AGONG network participants. (MPW)

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