End bloodshed. End strife.

Originally agreed-on by both parties, the Government of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) are set to return to the peace table this coming August 20-27. This window shall be an opportunity for both groups to show their genuine resolve in paving the road for peace for this country.

The recent exchange of jarring statements by both parties against each other; the seemingly slow response of the CPP-NPA-NDF to the unilateral ceasefire by government, which lead to the death of civilian militia from the recent encounters; the usual blow-by-blow exchanges of criticisms and seeming provocations: all these should not deter the peace talks that is now about to happen.


We ask both parties to act with restraint and discuss their differences in the negotiating table, not over media. We ask the President to give his full trust to his appointed peace panel and to ensure that his ground troops toe the line of peace. We ask the CPP-NPA-NDF to ensure that no further discordant actions, that could undermine the peace talks, shall take place given that they have already agreed to ceasefire.

As a network of faith-based institutions, civil society, community-based peoples’ organization, and rights defenders, we desire that the long-standing strife between the GPH and the CPP-NPA-NDF will result to resolving issues justly and rationally, and will ultimately end to peace, not to further bloodshed. 

Instead of dying by bullets and being caught in crossfire, we urge everyone to “turn their arms into plowshares” and discuss peace-building and development initiatives especially of the poorest communities affected by armed conflicts. 

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Peace lives beyond "Palpak" Congress

The administration may have given up, but groups continue the pursuit for peace, calling to institutionalize a Bangsamoro Basic Law compliant to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Hundreds of members of peace groups, network of Bangsamoro including women and youth, and faith-based organizations show their disapproval yesterday, during the plenary. The House was taken by surprise when numerous attendees including Moro women in hijab remove their top to bare their T-Shirts that say it all: 16th Congress Palpak sa BBL.

Plenary Hall 2

SURPRISE. Moro women wearing hijab show their courage during the plenary by baring a T-Shirt undernead their garments that states what they think about the Congress on junking BBL. Bangsamoro groups and peace network push for CAB-based BBL, which will not only facilitate just and lasting peace but will also recognize right to self-determination and other rights of Moro and non-Moro IPs in the Bangsamoro region. 

A week before the adjournment of its plenary session, the 16th Congress itself has given up for lost major bills mainly because of its inability to form a quorum, including BBL and Freedom of Information.

“We watched with disgust as the House members slaughtered what has been put together all these years to acknowledge the rights of our brothers and sisters, Moro and non-Moro Filipinos in the Bangsamoro” the statement distributed during activity read (Download the statement from this link).


The group also expressed their frustration that after promises from several members of the Congress to support the bill, majority did not even attend the session. In a statement signed by several organizations, the group promised to not back down.

“We continue to push for peace for the Bangsamoro, and to be instruments of genuine social change so that every member of society will be recognized and the rights of every member of every are respected: their rights to education, employment, access to basic social services, and to live in a safe and peaceful community away from aggresion and armed conflict; for all to be part of this one country where the citizens of the Bangsamoro can feel that they are part of the Philippines, at par with the rest of the country, ” the statement said.

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on Mamasapano and Mindanao

We remember with grieving the tragic event that took the lives of 5 civilians, 44 members of the PNP Special Action Forces (SAF) and 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed Moro combatants. Each life so suddenly ended and leaving families, communities, and our nation in lingering pain.

Despite investigations by both Houses of Congress and the Department of Justice, as well as by the PNP Board of Inquiry, the MILF, and the International Monitoring Team among others, the truth of the tragic event still has to be fully known.   Unfortunately, the variations in the initial reports of these bodies indicate that  the way to this truth will never be easy, and may not be helped by further  investigation at this time when the electoral season has begun.

Sadly, looking back at the long history of conflict in Mindanao, there have been many incidents that still cry for truth and justice. These include the Jabidah massacre of 1968 that occurred on the eve of the Martial Law declared by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the massacre of 1,500 Moros in Tacbil Mosque in Malisbong, Palembang in September 1974,  the killing of 124 soldiers  on Pata  Island in February 1981, with retaliation brought to bear on more than  a thousand civilian victims,  and the ‘burning of Jolo City’ in February 1974 wherein almost 10,000 were killed – Muslims, Christians and Chinese alike due to the ensuing armed hostilities.  As a people, we still need to learn and understand the history of the peoples of Mindanao and undertake the necessary healing task of transitional justice.

Let us however strive to bring this healing now where we can, even as our efforts for justice need to continue.   The families of the victims of Mamasapano should be supported in their basic and psycho-social needs.  They should exemplify our efforts at healing, not division.  We hope that small discreet initiatives for dialogue and reconciliation among these torn and suffering families and communities bear fruit and be allowed to grow.

Let us also realize that Mindanao and the country have had many stories, not just of conflict, but also of interfaith and intercultural dialogue and peacebuilding. Let us continue to nurture these national and local efforts to bring healing, restorative justice and reconciliation to individuals and communities affected by conflict and violence in Mindanao.

These countless decades of peace efforts and small steps taken collectively by a multitude of actors and communities, both here and around the world, have led us to celebrating the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), not too long ago.   

We therefore appeal to all Filipinos, and especially our legislators, to find the will and the peace of heart, to support and pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) faithful to the peace agreement and the aspirations it is founded upon.   

For those who have fallen, and especially for the bereaved who face the future, let us grasp the peace that is at hand!

Agong Peace Network
Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy Center (APILA)
Balay Rehabilitation Center
Center for Peace Education -  Miriam College
Civil Society Organization Forum for Peace Inc.
Coffee For Peace, Inc.
Generation Peace Youth Network (Genpeace)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) 
Inter-Cultural Organizations' Network for Solidarity & Peace (ICON-SP)
Kapamagogopa Inc.
Lanao Peace Partners, Inc (LPP)
Mindanao CSO Peace Platform (MCSOPP)
Mindanao Alliance for Peace and Development (MAPAD)
Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW)
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN) 
MSU-IIT Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao 
NGO Basic Sector Council - National Anti Poverty Commission (NAPC-NGO)
Pailig Development Foundation Inc.
PeaceBuilders Community, Inc.
Philippine Misereor Partners, Inc (PMPI)
SUCCEED - Global
Waging Peace – Philippines (WPP)
Women and Gender Initiatives (WAGI)
Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WEAct 1325) 
Women Peace Collective
Women’s Peace Table (WPT)

In an open letter to both the GPH and NDF panels, civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) today urged the government and the rebels to “go back to the peace table and resume the talks until a just political settlement is reached.”

“We see that the best timing to publicly call for the resumption of the peace talks is today, in time for the International Human Rights Day, as the human rights not just of combatants from both sides but also of civilians whose rights are severely violated and abused because of this conflict," PMPI National Coordinator Yolanda Esguerra said.

HR and ENVI 2

Esguerra explained that the letter is a result of the network’s Peace Summit held last November 2015.  PMPI has initially sent the said letter to the chairpersons of both panels and later decided to make its demands public to encourage response from both parties. Among the signatories of the letter are Sulong CARHRIHL, Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute, Balay Mindanaw, CBCP-NASSA, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and PMPI partners across the Philippines.

(Download open letter from here)

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A network of peace advocates expressed hope in the passage of a comprehensive Bangsamoro Basic Law come September this year.

The All-Out Peace (AOP) movement has launched its official stand on BBL outlined in its lobby paper during the advocacy groups’ press conference on Augut 5. The position paper pushes genuine autonomy to the Bangsamoro and to entrench a BBL anchored on comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
“It is a matter of an open dialogue,” Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) national coordinator Yolly Esguerra said. “We are positive because many provisions we have lobbied for were included and approved by the ad hoc committee, when the House has concluded in May.”
Esguerra is one of the panelists during the press-con.  Jasmine Galace of We Act 1325, Muss Lidasan of Al Qallam Institute, and Gus Miclat of Initiatives for International Dialogue, AOP lead organization, were also part of the panel.
Quezon City-6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte and Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan were also present in the press-con. The solons received the lobby paper of AOP.
“This is not an easy process,” Congressman Gutierrez said. “But the more groups are engaged in the process, the more the Congress will try to achieve a good BBL that will bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao.”
AOP is composed of peace networks and civil society groups, including PMPI.
Shooting for the Moon and Stars
Miclat explained that AOP’s proposed enhancements will complete and sufficiently realize the call for sustainable and meaningful autonomy in the Bangsamoro.
Some of the crucial and relevant provisions of the original draft bill, he added, were either deleted or diluted.
“BBL is a social justice instrument. For this we aim to shoot for the moon and stars: the passage of a CAB-based BBL,” Miclat said.
Galace, on the other hand, stresses that women’s human rights in all aspects “should be a primordial consideration in the crafting of policies and the implementation of programs, projects, and activities in the Bangsamoro."
When asked by a member of the media, Galace also pointed out the constitutionality of the BBL, which has been affirmed by Hilario Davide, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Inclusive Development
Datu Muss Lidasan, a member of the Royal House of Maguindanao and the executive 
director of Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, has shared that BBL will facilitate development, especially to Muslim education.
“Bangsamoro is not a political group, we must clarify that,” Lidasan said. “Upon the passage of the BBL, it does not mean that politically motivated extremist will grow stronger. In fact, BBL will help us build and improve our madrassas. This will promote improved dialogues, which in turn facilitate lasting peace.”
Esguerra, in a statement, added that BBL goes hand-in-hand with the Pope’s encyclical, in spreading integrity of creation and care for our common home.
“CAB-based BBL will aid development for all, including indigenous communities,” Esguerra said. “In Pope’s Laudato Si, the Pope has recognized the lead of indigenous communities in environmental protection. Land for them, he said, is not a commodity but rather a gift from God. They love their ancestral domain. We only see it just to uphold IPs, including Non-Moro IPs, fundamental rights and authority over their ancestral domain and natural resources.”
Esguerra calls the present administration to focus its remaining 9 months towards promotion of authentic policies that can promote peace and genuine development
“I believe several of our Congressmen are still willing to listen. We just need to continue the dialogue with them” she said.

Let BBL Facilitate Care for Our Common Home by Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)


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