Mindanao Peaceweavers writes GMA and Murad

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President Republic of the Philippines

Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim
Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Dear Madam President and Chairman Murad,

The humanitarian crisis in Central Mindanao is serious. Following the cancellation of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, now declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and the government’s orders to the Philippine armed forces for punitve actions against rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the situation on the ground continue to deteriorate.

Much as there is denial from the government of the gravity of the humanitarian crisis, the fact remains that there are now more than half a million people – internally displaced persons – who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing armed conflict. This staggering figure does not count even the casualties on both sides of the combatants and the hidden and long-term effects of the violence on the young, our chidren and youth who are the future of this country.

With all due respect, Madam President, we would like to ask what happened to your own declaration on the primacy of the peace process as contained in your Executive Order in 2003?

As we dread a worsening humanitarian situation, we would like to appeal to your Excellency to immediately declare a suspension of military operations (SOMO) to sober up the situation and allow the mechanisms on the ceasefire agreement with the MILF to work again in addressing culpability and bring to justice those found guilty of violations.

We also appeal to the leadership of the MILF to cooperate in finding a just resolution of alleged violations of the so-called rogue elements from your ranks. We urge you to demonstrate your firm resolve and commitment to peace by reigning in all your forces and constituents and prove that indeed you are sincere in negotiating for a peaceful settlement of the Mindanao conflict.

Your Excellency and Mr. Chairman, we trust you know that violence committed by any parties in conflict cannot be resolved by another, if not increased form of violence. We all know that this will be, a never ending cycle that will only bring this country to the brink of destruction. We are sure you will not allow this to happen.

Madam President, we believe that you will not want this to be your legacy. As President and Commander-in-Chief, it is much your duty to declare war as to wage peace and we reiterate our appeal to you to please give greater weight to waging peace than pursuing the military action against perceived enemies of the state. We urge you to do so lest we be compelled to appeal for= United Nations intervention to avert a worst humanitarian crisis in Mindanao.

Meantime, we also note with hope your recent overtures for the resumption of the peace talks with the MILF, but we would also like to hope that such pronouncements be accompanied at once with concrete and positive gestures of peace. The immediate declaration of a SOMO could be one of these gestures as a confidence-building measure to demonstrate the government’s sincerity in finding a just resolution to the conflict and genuine peace in Mindanao.

We also reiterate our appeal and challenge to the MILF to give their share in creating an atmosphere for dialogue and the conditions to tread the tedious path to peace.

There can never be genuine dialogue in an atmosphere of hostility.

As peace advocates we take it upon ourselves to face up to the challenge of building and uniting for peace, especially in light of the surfacing of biases and prejudices among and between peoples of Mindanao and the rest of the citizenry, following the MOA-AD debacle.

More importantly, we need to immediately put a stop to the armed hostilities. War is NOT an option. PLEASE STOP THE WAR IN MINDANAO.

Fr. Angel Calvo
Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement

Prof. Octavio Dinampo
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)

Fr. Eduardo Pedregoza
AGONG Network

Guiamel Alim
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)

Mabel Carumba
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)

Rey Magno Teves
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC)

Karen Tanada
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)

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

Atty. Raissa Jajurie

Maria Ida Mae Guiguento
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

MPW represents the broadest network of peace constituency in the island cutting across NGOs, academe, religious, human rights groups, peoples organizations and grassroots communities advancing a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mindanao. Its member networks are: the AGONG Network, Mindanao Peoples Caucus, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference, Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement, Mindanao Solidarity Network and Peace Advocates Zamboanga. The joint secretariat include the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Saligan-Mindanaw and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

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