DUYOG MINDANAO: Peoples’ Caravan for Peace and Solidarity

From November 21 to 28, a peoples’ caravan will be led by civil society organizations, civic, religious, academic organizations and other kindred organizations. It will travel from Baguio City to Cotabato City making stops along major cities to hold forums, discussions, consultations and solidarity activities to:

1.  Increase awareness on the cost and impact of war in Mindanao on women, children and other sectors of society;
2.  Call for humanitarian protection and assistance to people in Mindanao affected by the on-going hostilities;
3.  Call for immediate ceasefire and resumption of peace negotiations; and
4.  Broaden the peace constituency in the country

The culminating event in Cotabato City will be a multi-sectoral gathering of solidarity for peace. This will coincide with the start of the annual celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace. The caravan will traverse the conflict-affected areas to interact with evacuees or internally displaced persons, victims and combatants and their supporters, whenever possible.

Route

Luzon: Pangasinan; San Fernando, Pampanga; Malolos, Bulacan; Quezon City; Maharlika, Taguig; Batangas City and Calapan, Mindoro

Visayas: Roxas City, Capiz; Caticlan, Aklan; Iloilo City and Bacolod City. Simultaneous activities will also happen in Cebu City.

Mindanao: Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City, Marawi City and Cotabato City. A contingent from Cagayan de Oro City will meet up with participants from Davao City before proceeding to Cotabato City.

See: General Itinerary (in .pdf)

Background

WAR is NOT an option!

After hostilities broke out anew between government armed forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Central Mindanao, the danger of a slide to “all-out war” is lurking in the wings with “spoilers”, from both parties in conflict, and some quarters jumping on the confusion and fanning the flames of conflict.

This is the situation in Mindanao following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This draft agreement was eventually junked by the government along with the abolition of its negotiating panel.  The Supreme Court has recently declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

In the meantime, more than half a million people are now displaced and are in deplorable conditions in cramped evacuation centers or are seeking refuge with relatives in friends in safer communities.

This latest saga of hostilities have also shown how prejudices are so much based on ignorance and how media can blow this puny bias out to very dangerous proportions.  An anti-Moro, anti-peace rhetoric has dominated the public discourse of late.  Ironically,  the elite opposition, mainstream media and some elements in government-  from local government units, the military and national officials are in this same bandwagon.

Most of the citizenry – specially those from Luzon and the Visayas- have been mostly exposed to this heavily one-sided picture of a conflict-ridden Mindanao in general, and of the treacherous and marauding Moros in particular.  It of course does not help that tactical combat excesses borne out of “frustration” of Moro armed units identified with the MILF have been projected repeatedly and has provided concrete fodder for this bias to fester.

Amidst a general public opinion grossly apathetic to the situation and ignorant of the roots of the conflict in Mindanao and the drowning of the Mindanaoan perspectives on the discourse as recently manifested in the national debate on the issue of the MOA-AD, and other attendant issues, there is a pressing need to sober up the situation.

Duyog Mindanao, People’s Caravan for Peace and Solidarity in Mindanao is an effort by the civil society organizations, church and other concerned groups to balance the dominant yet skewed discourse on Mindanao and its pople particularly the Moros.  It is one of the main compoenents of the  broader DUYOG MINDANAO Campaign.

Convenors

The convenors of the DUYOG MINDANAO, People’s Caravan for Peace and Solidarity in Mindanao are: Mindanao Peace Weavers (Agong Network, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement-Zamboanga, Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference, Mindanao Peoples Caucus, Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement, Mindanao Solidarity Movement; Secretariats- Initiatives for International Dialogue, Catholic Relief Services, Saligan-Mindanao and Technical Assistance Center for the Development of Rural and Upland), Waging Peace Philippines, Generation Peace, and Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC-SEA). Other participating organizations are: La Liga Filipina Policy Institute, CARE for Mindanao, Bangsa Moro Peoples’ Solidarity, Anak Mindanao, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Philippine Human Rights Information Center and Balay Rehabilitation Center.

This campaign is endorsed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)

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