MINDANAO PEOPLE'S PEACE MOVEMENT CALLS FOR A PEACE PROCESS ACCOUNTABLE TO THE SUFFERING PEOPLE
by Alvaro O. Senturias, Jr, Chairperson, Mindanao People's Peace Movement (MPPM)
The Lumad, Bangsamoro and Mindanao Settlers and their Descendants are all peace-loving peoples. Yet now we find our beloved homeland of Mindanao wracked with terror, bloodshed, repeated dislocation of thousands of families, accusations and scapegoating which drive the Tri-People to distrust and oppose one another. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), armed Bangsamoro groups, and unidentified criminal elements such as terrorist groups are all becoming more aggressive and devastating in their attacks.
The last thirty painful years of struggle and sacrifice has taught us that there is no military solution to the deep-rooted problems here in Mindanao. That is why the Mindanao People's Peace Movement (MPPM) calls on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Philippine Government(GRP), as well as Chairman Salamat Hashim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to IMMEDIATELY DECLARE A NEW CEASEFIRE AND RETURN TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE. The GRP should withdraw its arrest warrants for top MILF officials, stop authorizing pre-emptive attacks on civilian communities, and begin to show respect for the Bangsamoro cause so that Peace Talks can officially resume with sincerity and goodwill from both sides.
The Mindanao People's Peace Movement, a tri-people grassroots coalition of human rights and peace groups, is concerned that the Peace Process will continue to be callously disregarded unless both parties become accountable to the people of Mindanao. It is only just that the communities who have suffered so long from this war should have their voices and aspirations at the forefront of the Peace Process. For this reason, the MPPM calls on the Philippine Government to hold a United Nations-Supervised Referendum in Bangsamoro Areas of Mindanao within the next few years, to allow the people to choose between autonomy, a federal state, or full independence from the Philippines. This way, the Bangsamoro will have a chance to express their demand for Self-Determination through democratic means rather than through armed struggle.
The MPPM appeals to the perpetrators of the terrorist bombings to stop this senseless destruction of innocent lives and properties. These acts of terrorism have only given the GRP the excuse it needs to scapegoat the MILF and pursue a ruthless military solution, while targeting Muslim communities for repression. We are outraged that authorities have been raiding Muslim communities in Davao. The Tri-People in Mindanao must resist the hysteria, prejudice, and animosity being fueled by authorities, while we intensify our efforts to build trust and solidarity, and carefully analyze the history of our Tri-People's struggles.
The MPPM joins with peace groups around the world against the U.S.-led war of aggression on Iraq. Like the Philippine government, President Bush is using the public's fear and confusion over terrorist attacks to create anti-Muslim hysteria and justify launching a war which will kill countless innocent civilians. War is not the answer to the problems in Iraq, or the problems in the Philippines. The interests of the people must come first. Those in power must listen to the people's voices and heed their call for peace.
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The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on April 7, 2003