SUPPORT PEACE ROADMAP FOR GPH-CPP/NDF/NPA
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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)
A network of peace advocates expressed hope in the passage of a comprehensive Bangsamoro Basic Law come September this year.