We, the undersigned peace advocates, peace networks and civil society groups pursuing the ALL-OUT PEACE advocacy are collectively expressing our urgent humanitarian appeal for the suspension of military operations (SOMO) undertaken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) starting in the “SPMS box” in Maguindanao – Salibo, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak and spilled over to Guindulungan, Talayan, Datu Piang where BIFF members allegedly have retreated with Abdulbasit Usman.
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CHANGING CONTEXTS, LOCALIZED ASSYMETRY AND CULTURAL COHESION IN MINDANAO A LOCAL AND GLOBAL CHALLENGE
Thank you MISS for the invitation for me to speak at your annual convention. Am humbled and honored as seldom do civil society voices get to be heard in significant gatherings such as yours. I am thus also challenged to perhaps provide a different, perhaps some fresh perspective in the concerns and issues that you are tackling in this meeting.
The aim of your conference is to discuss the significance of Mindanao to the country and to the world. This is very apt in these challenging times.
It is with profound shock and sorrow that we view the events as yet unfolding in the surrounds of Mamasapano in Maguindanao. Our hearts bleed at the carnage wrought and the needless loss of Filipino lives brought on by a series of decisions, events, judgment calls and developments that may never be fully and publicly unraveled. We extend our deepest condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones, and bear with those now undeservedly suffering in its aftermath. We can even understand the grief, rancor and rage now simmering as a visceral response by many to these events. We are aware and empathize with these feelings and emotions to a degree. Yet despite this and to all we still say, stay the course of peace, for it remains our best recourse.
So today, “Peace” is no longer a slogan but a living reality we can actually grasp and nurture. The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and its allied networks such as the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Friends of the Bangsamoro (FoBM) appreciates that the process of crafting of the BBL has expanded our country’s assets for peacebuilding and created favorable conditions for genuine peace. However, IID is aware that even if Congress passes the BBL into law, it will not automatically produce Human Security.
The expansion of military troops in the region will not help realize lasting peace for our people. If the US is truly an ally of peace, it should learn from its experiences on conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East: that military interference of external powers has never facilitated and, in fact, most of the time, if not always, exacerbated regional or domestic peace-building processes.
The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) is a Philippines-based advocacy institution promoting human security, democratization and people-to-people solidarity.
IID conducts policy advocacy and campaign programs on Burma, Mindanao, Southern Thailand, West Papua, and East Timor.