September 9, 2012
As the GPH and MILF peace panels wrap up their 31st round of Formal Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we the Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW) await the outcomes with keen concern, interest and hope. In the decades-long process from conflict to peace in our time, we continue to remain hopeful and pray for a transformative agreement.
Our spirits are buoyed by the resolve exhibited by both panels in the depth and seriousness of their preparations prior to each meeting. The manifest willingness to remain open in defining and sharing solutions, despite the difficulties linked to critical details, reflects the admirable spirit and goodwill driving the peace process. We send our encouragement and well-wishes to all involved at this stage of the talks.
We commend both the MILF leadership and the Philippine government in their stated stand against those who seek to derail the process, especially those who continue to use and provoke violence to forward their baser and narrow interests.
We also express our enthusiastic support for both panels’ desire to generate broader-based support for the peace process. We encourage both the GPH and the MILF to continue engaging civil society, their networks and the general public at large, on the key issues driving the talks. Through such engagement and sharing of information, we believe a much broader and supportive populace for the peace process will willingly and openly come to the fore.
We are also encouraged by the increasing interest our international friends are exhibiting towards these talks. We call on them to continue with their acts and expressions of support. We believe resolving any conflict benefits humankind and remains a task of every member of the global community.
As we seek this transformation, defining the details of the agreement for both panels remains crucial and critical. We understand that long-standing differences cannot be summarily nor substantively resolved immediately. Again, we remain supportive of both panels in their continuing efforts at settling such differences and details peacefully and deliberatively. We believe that continuing dialogue has yielded positive results in the past and staying the course remains the best option at substantively resolving key issues.
The immediate goals towards coming up with a consensus draft, a clear timetable and developing a conducive environment for settling long-standing differences, remain our collective goal over the short term. Yet as we go through the process of defining these steps towards lasting peace, let us on the one hand remain grounded in the history of what has come before us, and on the other, be guided by the transformative peace that we seek.
Let us remember the martyrs and visionaries from all sides who have come and gone, who dreamt and fought for peace, development and prosperity in our land.
At the same time, let us be mindful of the generations yet to come and the legacy that we will leave them with.
Let us honor them all by bravely turning over this new leaf of peace in our own time, where Mindanao is a land of fulfilled promises, where we honor our heroes not with war but with peace.
Let us lead our children into a transformed reality filled with promise.
It is time to silence the guns.
And time to celebrate the peace.