Davao City – In the run-up to the May 2010 national elections, around 60 community leaders of the BangsaMoro, indigenous peoples and settlers from all over Mindanao will gather today to discuss the directions of the peace process and how civil society will engage the incoming administration this year.
The gathering, dubbed “Peoples’ Peace Assembly” will launch the Mindanao People’s Peace Agenda (MPPA), the flagship project of the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW). MPW is a convergence of peace advocates in Mindanao which was conceived in 2003 by seven peace networks in the spirit of cooperation and concerted action towards a common peace advocacy platform.
Prior to the assembly, Mindanao-wide network and area consultations were done byt he MPW to validate results of community-based processes of consensus building conducted since 2009 that expressed the needs and aspirations of the Bangsamoro and lumad peoples and underscored the need to increase civil society participation in the policymaking processes for Mindanao.
“The MPPA does not intend to supplant or replace existing 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,” stated Guiamel Alim, Chairman of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) during the Central Mindanao consultation in Cotabato City earlier. CBCS is a member of the MPW.
Among the consultation findings, the group is calling for the next president to put a stop to excessive use of military force in its operations which they claim was a major catalyst for the Maguindanao massacre to happen.
“Time and again, the use of pure brute has proven futile in the search for peace in Mindanao. We are calling on the next president to learn from these mistakes. Instead of using private armies, government must deploy professional and well-trained police and military personnel who will uphold and respect human rights,” stated Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue, an advocacy and solidarity institution promoting peace, conflict prevention, democratization and right to self-determination in Southeast Asia. IID is the lead secretariat of the MPW.
The Philippines recently adopted a national action plan for the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1825 and 1320 mandating conflict actors and governments to train peacekeeping operations on gender issues and uphold the International Humanitarian Law or Republic Act 9851 that seeks protection for civilians caught in armed conflicts.