Stand Our Ground, Support the Peace Talks!

The Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), joined and resolute in our commitment to peace through dialogue and consensus-building, express our deepest concern over the recent armed action allegedly perpetrated by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), and the countermeasures of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It is unfortunate that this even happened in the midst of the Holy Month of Ramadhan.

Fervently believing in peace and the peace talks as the best way forward to resolve the generations of conflict in Mindanao, we are deeply disturbed by any act that could, whether by chance or intent, detract from the gains painstakingly built through the years by all of us sincerely desiring peace in Mindanao.

We understand that in any conflict-resolution process, issues may arise that may not be given the immediate importance they seemingly deserve. However, we also believe that escalating the conflict and specially endangering innocent civilians in a region moving towards peace, can never be an acceptable means to a lasting resolution. It’s always the civilians who are most ravaged by war. And ironically, it is on their behalf that the war is waged– be it from the government’s or rebels’ perspectives. We thus call on all parties to immediately address the humanitarian needs of the civilians and evacuees affected by this conflict and ensure their safe return to their communities the soonest possible time.

We appeal to both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hold on to their ceasefire and address jointly this challenge in a decisive and robust manner.

We laud the MILF leadership in hewing to their commitments for peace amidst this outbreak of violence. But we encourage them to also assert their moral standing among their constituency to help halt this act that can derail the ongoing peace process.

We encourage the government to do the same in not allowing detractors among their ranks to prevail on the peace process. We urge government forces to keep in mind the primacy of the peace process and not be swayed by interests other than the goals of the peace negotiations. We therefore, encourage the AFP to practice utmost tolerance and restraint in safeguarding a region still reeling from decades of instability and conflict.

As we now stand before what many of us fervently hope and pray is a new and promising page unfurling in Mindanao’s history, we call on all parties to hold steady, stay the course and trust in the wisdom of the many uniting us in our common desire for peace, rather than be divided by our differences as harked upon by a few.

The Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) now call upon those elements who initiated this violence to temper their aggressive actions by instead seeking avenues of dialogue for redress of their legitimate grievances. We call on the peace panels to seriously listen to the plaints of those who believe to have been shut out of the peace process including those who resort to violent acts. We laud and call on the media to continue not to fan the flames of this new round of violence. Foremost of all, we ask all stakeholders supportive of the peace process–specially the civil society- to stand fast and resolutely make their voices heard above the discord.

Let us forge ahead and build peace now.

7 August 2012

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