Davao City – “We hope it won’t take a little while more for the Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) of the government and the Suspension of Military Action (SOMA) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to become real,” stated Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), on reports that armed clashes had recurred in Central Mindanao recently despite the declaration of SOMO.
During the Roundtable Discussion on the Peace Building Efforts in Pikit, North Cotabato last August 6, 2009 held in Pikit, Alfredo Recana, staff of the OMI Inter-Religious Ministry, stated that incidents of armed conflict persist and had recurred about thrice since July 23. Recana cited the most recent incident happened last Aug. 5. “These incidents still persist, but the residents refuse to tell the media about it,” Recana told IID. IID and other peace networks have welcomed the SOMO and SOMA announcements that is seen to pave the way for the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations in the island.
The locals in the area seem to hold varied opinions. Several confirmed that violent incidents persist but refused to elaborate; many were hesitant to tell; while others claimed lack of knowledge of any violent activity.
“The SOMO and SOMA can be real; not merely a show let alone a myth. Serious observance of the ceasefire mechanisms will gauge the sincerity of the parties in the negotiating table upon resumption of the peace talks. But it is up to the people to guard and ensure that these mechanisms and pronouncements indeed work”, stressed Miclat.