With great sadness, the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW), and its convening network-members in Mindanao, Visayas and Manila, would like to extend our deepest sympathy and prayers to the tragedy that has befallen our fellow Filipinos when Typhoon Yolanda rampaged through our vulnerable communities in some parts of Visayas and Mindanao a few days ago.
We are expressing our direst plea for massive humanitarian aid and action to partners here in the Philippines and abroad in response to the aftermath of the Category 3 super typhoon which affected Regions 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13 and plowed across Region 8 – a furious Yolanda wreaking havoc to a devastated Leyte, Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern Samar.
MPW calls for an indefinite cessation of armed hostilities in the affected regions in the spirit of compassion and respect while the communities are still trying to collect themselves from the trauma, bury their kin, search for the missing, seek medical help for the injured and sick, find a roof to stay dry, share a piece of bread with a neighbor or even find a corner to grieve for a lost beloved.
We are urging all state and the non-state armed actors to immediately declare a bilateral ceasefire especially in areas hardest hit by the super typhoon through directing their respective ground commands in calling for a Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) or a Suspension of Military Activities (SOMA) for an indefinite period of time while civilian evacuees are still being safely gathered and given relief support and temporary shelter.
Furthermore, we are humbly requesting that the armed actors mutually recognize and publicly declare these areas as “humanitarian peace zones” to pave the way for installing facilities for relief, psychosocial and medical operations, clearing of debris from the disaster, rebuilding road networks, and reconstructing energy and communication structures which will be facilitated by the national and local governments, line agencies and humanitarian groups.
We are enjoining everyone, victims and all, to continually hold on to hope and value life all the more in the midst of pain and hardship consuming our pride and strength. Let us allow these affected communities to go through the cycle of grief and continually express our solidarity in ways big and small. As a nation, we are here for the long haul. Together.
After all, there is also always a calm after the storm. And Leyte, together with other resilient communities, will spring back from this garden we call Life.
MINDANAO PEACEWEAVERS (MPW)
Agong Peace Network, Inc – AGONG
Bisayang Dako Alamg sa Kalinaw – BISDAK
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society – CBCS
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference – MPAC
Mindanao Peoples Caucus – MPC
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement – MPPM
Mindanao Solidarity Network – MSN
Initiatives for International Dialogue – IID
GZO Peace Institute – GZOPI
Waging Peace Philippines