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10 Things: Why Should We Pursue the Bangsamoro Peace Talks?

 We are all brothers and sisters not by blood, but by our tears, our suffering, our mourning. I am enraged by the violence in Mamasapano, but will never call for an all-out war. Many who beat on their war drums know nothing about being in a war zone. It is easy to be a commando on Facebook or a Rambo with a signature espresso drink. But war is ugly. Very, very ugly. Uglier than how movies portray it. I’ve seen firsthand the aftermath of the MoA-AD in 2008.

While the BBL did not in any way trigger the senseless deaths in Mamasapano, it became the primary casualty of a botched military operation against terrorism. Make no mistake, terrorism in all forms should be condemned but having the BBL threatened after the Mamasapano clash loses sight of the opportune moment to build peace and turn swords into ploughshares. Here are some perspectives on why we should see the bigger picture and pursue peace along with our cries for justice.

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Calendar of Activities: Peace Month

JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE CELEBRATION!

Doing something for Peace Day? Submit your initiatives by contacting us.

NOTE: The schedules of initiatives here may change without prior notice. It is advisable to contact the local area coordinators beforehand.

GenPeace is part of the larger network called the Waging Peace Philippines and the broader coming together of the Philippine peace movement known as the “Kilos para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan” (KILOS).


			

ON THE RESUMPTION OF THE GRP-NDFP FORMAL PEACE TALKS

PUBLISHED ON JULY 18, 2009 AT 4:40 PM (bulatlat.com)

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) welcomes the recent announcements made by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) that the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks will resume next month, August 2009.

The PEPP commends the negotiating panels of the two parties, as well as the third party facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, for successfully resolving the problems and removing the obstacles that stood in the way of the formal talks for the last five years.

We look forward to the two parties resuming in earnest the negotiations on Social and Economic Reforms. The urgency and importance of crafting a comprehensive agreement on this substantive agenda cannot be overemphasized, especially in the light of the current global and local financial and economic crisis resulting in increasing poverty and hardships for our people. We urge the two parties to negotiate these reforms that would address the roots of the armed conflict with the national interest and the people’s welfare foremost in mind.

We look forward to the reconvening of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), along with the resumption of formal talks. The JMC is mandated to monitor the implementation of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). We call on the JMC to promptly and speedily act on the numerous complaints of human rights violations in connection with the armed conflict already filed with and received by the Joint Secretariat of the JMC.

We reiterate our resolve to continue supporting the negotiations as part of our people’s quest for a just and enduring peace. We shall engage our churches and constituencies and mobilize our organizations in the discourse on the roots of the armed conflict and on the necessary measures to resolve these roots. In particular, we shall contribute to the dissemination and implementation of the CARHRIHL, and in generating discussions that would heighten the awareness and lead to an eventual consensus on social and economic reforms, especially among the youth and other basic sectors who are the main stakeholders in the peace process.

These we will do in prayer and with the faith that the cries for peace and justice will reverberate in this land and finally come to pass.

Signed:
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
Co-chairperson, PEPP Co-chairperson, PEPP

Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., DD
Head, PEPP Secretariat

MPW condemns bombings; urges GRP and MILF to uphold protection rights of IDPs

MPW condemns bombings; urges GRP and MILF to uphold protection rights of IDPs
The violence has to stop.
We, the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) call on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to return to the negotiating table for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mindanao.
We strongly condemn the bombings in Cotabato City and other parts of Mindanao. We urge a thorough and impartial investigation, mindful of the cloud=
of suspicion around previous bombings, that will lead to truth and justice.
We ask both sides of the GRP and the MILF to be mindful in issuing statements in the light of the recent bombing in Cotabato City which killed 5 civilians and injured 35 others, that could create division by projecting the war in Mindanao as religious in nature, when it is not. For several decades, the Moro, indigenous peoples and settlers in Mindanao have live together harmoniously.
Instead, GRP and the MILF should review their peace and security framework and operations to ensure the genuine interests and protection of the Mindanawans, especially their right to self determination and governance.
We also deplore the more quiet but pervasive and lingering violence of displacement being experienced by hundreds of Mindanao communities.
The Geneva based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center reported that more than 600,000 civilians were displaced from August to December last year after talks between the MILF and the government hit a snag over the non-signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.
As of June 25, according to the records of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a total of 71,662 families or 359,022 persons have yet to return home as of June 29, 2009 and of this number, 56,685 families or 286,542 persons are still in the evacuation centers or relatives’ houses.
They are cramped in evacuation centers and not spared from daily mortar shelling. Children make up almost 70 percent of the deaths in the war-torn communities.
We are also very alarmed over the recent pronouncement of the military that they view internally displaced persons as “reserve enemy force.”
International humanitarian law and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Displaced Persons clearly state that it is the primary responsibility of the State to protect the rights of the civilian population, especially women and children from being violated.
The GRP and the MILF must protect and uphold the rights of civilians. Both invoke the civilians’ welfare when they wage war against each other and also when they negotiate peace. They should immediately address the situation of the internally displaced persons, by guaranteeing their safety to return home and resume normalcy in their daily lives.
We also urge the GRP and the MILF to review and reactivate the ceasefire mechanisms that had previously been effective in lowering the levels of violence, In the meantime, they must take immediate steps to discipline their respective troops.
We offer ourselves to all parties in seeking that elusive platform where the stalled process can move forward . Mindanao Peaceweavers is a convergence of peace advocates in Mindanao. It currently represents the broadest network of peace constituency in the island cutting across non-government organizations, academe, religious, human rights groups, peoples organizations and grassroots communities.
Mindanao has suffered long enough. The lives of our children have been wasted.We pray that the GRP and the MILF find a common ground for ending the hostilities in Mindanao. There is no other way. The GRP and the MILF must sitdown and negotiate. Now.
SIGNED:
Convenors and Secretariates:
Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP)
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC)
Agong Network
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
SALIGAN-Mindanaw
Technical Assistance Center for the Development of the Rural and Urban
Poor (TACDRUP)

The violence has to stop.

We, the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) call on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to return to the negotiating table for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mindanao.

We strongly condemn the bombings in Cotabato City and other parts of Mindanao. We urge a thorough and impartial investigation, mindful of the cloud of suspicion around previous bombings, that will lead to truth and justice.

We ask both sides of the GRP and the MILF to be mindful in issuing statements in the light of the recent bombing in Cotabato City which killed 5 civilians and injured 35 others, that could create division by projecting the war in Mindanao as religious in nature, when it is not. For several decades, the Moro, indigenous peoples and settlers in Mindanao have live together harmoniously.

Instead, GRP and the MILF should review their peace and security framework and operations to ensure the genuine interests and protection of the Mindanawans, especially their right to self determination and governance.

We also deplore the more quiet but pervasive and lingering violence of displacement being experienced by hundreds of Mindanao communities.

The Geneva based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center reported that more than 600,000 civilians were displaced from August to December last year after talks between the MILF and the government hit a snag over the non-signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

As of June 25, according to the records of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a total of 71,662 families or 359,022 persons have yet to return home as of June 29, 2009 and of this number, 56,685 families or 286,542 persons are still in the evacuation centers or relatives’ houses.

They are cramped in evacuation centers and not spared from daily mortar shelling. Children make up almost 70 percent of the deaths in the war-torn communities.

We are also very alarmed over the recent pronouncement of the military that they view internally displaced persons as “reserve enemy force.”

International humanitarian law and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Displaced Persons clearly state that it is the primary responsibility of the State to protect the rights of the civilian population, especially women and children from being violated.

The GRP and the MILF must protect and uphold the rights of civilians. Both invoke the civilians’ welfare when they wage war against each other and also when they negotiate peace. They should immediately address the situation of the internally displaced persons, by guaranteeing their safety to return home and resume normalcy in their daily lives.

We also urge the GRP and the MILF to review and reactivate the ceasefire mechanisms that had previously been effective in lowering the levels of violence, In the meantime, they must take immediate steps to discipline their respective troops.

We offer ourselves to all parties in seeking that elusive platform where the stalled process can move forward . Mindanao Peaceweavers is a convergence of peace advocates in Mindanao. It currently represents the broadest network of peace constituency in the island cutting across non-government organizations, academe, religious, human rights groups, peoples organizations and grassroots communities.

Mindanao has suffered long enough. The lives of our children have been wasted.We pray that the GRP and the MILF find a common ground for ending the hostilities in Mindanao. There is no other way. The GRP and the MILF must sitdown and negotiate. Now.

SIGNED:

Convenors and Secretariates:

Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP)

Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC)

Agong Network

Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)

Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)

Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)

Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)

Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

SALIGAN-Mindanaw

Technical Assistance Center for the Development of the Rural and Urban

Poor (TACDRUP)

Link: BAKWIT.ORG

We’re pleased to announce that a new website had been set up called www.bakwit.org (Reporting Internal Displacements in Mindanao).

The site is a  pro-bono initiative of Manila journalists to help bring attention on the plight of Mindanao IDPs in cooperation with Mindanao Comstrat, Mindanews, PECOJON, CCJD, NUJP, IWPR, I-WATCH. It is intended to be an information hub on all related data, situational analysis and reports on the IDPs.

Right now, the site contains only a slideshow of photos but the web administrator will be uploading more content in the days to come in the form of published articles, commentaries, analysis, statements, reports from CSOs, photos, etc. Contributions are welcome. Just email bakwit@bakwit. org.

This is still an offshoot of the the “State of the Bakwits” Joint Coverage of Mindanao and Manila journalists on the plight of IDPs held from June 29 to July 1.

There are plans particularly to sustain efforts of ensuring continued reportage on internal displacements. The organizers are in the process of doing the groundwork for this in consultation with CSOs.

A synthesized report/briefer that includes mapping of all issues and stakeholder views, positions and recommendations will also be out soon.  During the 3-day activity, we met with CSOs in collaboration with the CBCS; the IDPs in the commnities; the PA’s 6th ID; OCD; CHR; DOH; Engr. Unas; Atty. Sampulna; the MILF; and the
GRP panel chair Ambassador Seguis; and others.