Friday, December 10, 2010

Moro civil society group urge PNoy to break Impasse "Wants Montesa Formula Adopted"

“They must have the way to break this impasse between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Certainly, not at the expense of the poor people in Mindanao.” Maradeka sees in the wisdom of the former member of the GRP peace panel, Bong Montesa a formula to break this deadlock. As the Bangsamoro Civil Society groups will be joining the 62nd Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights dubbed, it is pushing for the adoption of the Montesa formula as the practicable option to get both sides return to peace negotiation.

Early on Atty. Camilo "Bong" Montesa put on objectively his observation and recommendations after a deadlock over the Malaysia facilitator and the facilitation process. Though MILF was definitely it is supporting Malaysia government as Third Country Facilitator, but the Philippine government was intent on changing the Datuk Othman Razak by iniating request via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, which Malaysian themselves took it as diplomatic insult.

But the current state of stalled peace made all forces of the civil society sector became wary of its repercussion and a common ground to join hands in the Call to Action to urge the government and the MILF to resolve the diplomatic impasse and caution them that the rising political tension in the ground can flare up again armed conflict. The groups urge also the PNoy gov't to release all Moro political prisoners and MILF leader Edward Guerra from his detention in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig as a good will gesture in keeping for confidence building.

Let it be recalled that our brother in Sultan Kudarat and Marawi staged their rallies and issued the Ranaw Manifesto urging MILF to pull out from the peace talks. In solidarity, we will re-echo their voices in Metro Manila by saying that we don’t this scenario to happen and urge the government to act responsibly and put above all the concern of the many would be thousands of people who will be affected should hostilities ensues. If the situation continue to be so, then we will have no recourse but to join solidarity and take once more a hard line stand.

All peace advocates most especially leaders of the various Muslim organizations and Bangsamoro civil society groups put on their own Manila solidarity statement as an expression of their collective voice and reach out to the government and MILF to come to term toward the resumption of peace negotiation to avert any conflict that in the end the victims are the ordinary people. The organizers expect the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process (OPAPP) and the palace to receive the consolidated position paper of various multi sectoral groups.

This Manila Solidarity Statement put forward with its Tent Points Muslim Position as it deemed necessary to collectively contribute in broadening the perspective and scope of Mindanao peace process and press for it to the benefits of all stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process. Briefly in the first three major points, 1) it strongly propose the adoption of the Montesa Formula to the Aquino government and as well as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to finally break the diplomatic impasse over complaint Philippine government over the Malaysia as Third Party Facilitator, 2) it demands from the Aquino government and Armed Forces of the Philippines to stringently observe the joint cessation of hostilities agreement, desist from all unnecessary provocations and incendiary statements that can seriously impede the ongoing peace process amidst the current impasse.

On the participatory rights of the various Mindanao civil society groups the salient points are in the point number 3) it put forward a proposal that in the peace exercise, the active participation of the Bangsamoro masses must be guaranteed and represented by its recognized and legitimate civil society sector and people organizations in the peace negotiations. In respect to early official pronouncement of His Excellency President Benigno C. Aquino III during his presidential inaugural speech on transparency in Mindanao peace process by adopting a policy of inclusive peace in Mindanao involving Moro, Lumad and Christian settlers, we demand for the institution of workable mechanism of representation by civil society sector and people organizations; 4) demand the Aquino government to fully exercise its political will and presidential prerogatives to bring to an end the prevalence of political patronages that caused local politicians, businessmen, landlords, political clans and government officials to obstruct peace in Mindanao.

On the IDPs the point 5) demand in the strongest term the security and protection of the civilians from harm and destruction resulting from the armed confrontation by the contending armed forces of the government and the MILF, so that we propose a rather more effective multi-lateral peace keeping force mandated by the United Nations Security Council to thwart forcefully violent armed conflicts and hostile elements and provide emergency response, security and protection, humanitarian aid, evacuation and shelters to non-combatant civilians instead of a limited mandate of an international monitoring set up.

Finally, it demanded from the Aquino government to respect Moro civil and political rights by releasing the senior MILF leader, Edward Mohandis Guerra and all the Moro political prisoners charged in relations to political activities and unconditionally drop suits on all leaders of the MILF and MNLF officials and members before the peace negotiation commences.

(A JOINT STATEMENT during the press conference on Maradeka’s March for Peace and Human Rights December 10, 2010)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Maradeka Condemns Violence in Mindanao “Caution PNoy Gov’t from Peace Saboteurs”

Arrested MILF Leader, Edward Guerra
The recent spate of violence in Mindanao may thus far spurn the hopes of the Mindanaoans for meaningful peace under the Aquino administration. Police authorities’ early accusations against the Moro rebel group in the absence of clear evidence shadowed doubt on the conduct of probe on all incidents, thus, many civil society groups suspected possible sabotage of the Mindanao peace process.

We joined many Mindanao organizations and religious groups in condemnation of the recent spates of violence in Mindanao such as the bus bombing in North Cotabato, ambuscade in Maguindanao town and extortion activities.

It is our belief that the perpetration of these acts of violence worried many peace advocates that the repeat of this cycle of violence followed its usual pattern similar from the past experience whose perpetrators’ sole objective is to sabotage peace in Mindanao.

Weeks earlier, our allied Mindanao civil society groups denounced the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the arrest of the leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Edward Mohandis Guerra as an affront of the Mindanao peace negotiations and a clear violation of the GRP-MILF ceasefire agreement under which its observation and compliance covered the immunity of every MILF officers and members for their safety and security involved in the peace process.

At the same time the MILF leadership was outraged by the arrest, the local PNP’s malicious implication of MILF following the recent bombing in North Cotabato and ambuscade without the benefit of thorough investigation suggest that the timing of these series of incidents could perfectly well creates a scenario meant to obstruct the conduct of peace negotiations. “It behooves us to think that those unhappy of the peace talks to resume could yet have the hands in the perpetration of these crimes,” said Nash Pangadapun, secretary general of Maradeka.

We urged the PNoy government to treat with circumspect the Mindanao issue and cautions of the possible “peace saboteurs” that will hinder his administration’s commitment to pursuing peace in Mindanao inclusive of all the peoples, groups and stakeholders and let alone not to put in harm ways many innocent lives and their economic prosperity and the peace and order to detriment. (read more...)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Incisive Views:

Few Objectionable Points on Aquino Peace Policy Direction

By: Maulana R. Alonto

The Moro Question has always been an international issue because the conflict in Mindanao is a sovereignty-based conflict basically created by foreign colonialism and imperialism. The international community's current involvement in the resolution of this conflict provides the necessary environment for the parties-in-conflict, i.e. the Bangsamoro people and the Philippine state, to dialogue over this problem on the negotiating table and arrive at a peaceful political settlement of the conflict. Now the Aquino regime wants to remove the international community from involvement in the peace process? What, then, does it want? The continuation of the war? For this would be analogous to a boxing match without a referee. And this would be tragic for the new Aquino regime which promises a clean departure from the mistakes of the past. Those who have access to Noynoy Aquino should tell him this!

But what we heard from informed sources is that the GRP is reviewing the participation of the International Contact Group (ICG) with the end in view of limiting and perhaps eliminating altogether its involvement in the peace process. As I said, international community involvement is necessary for having an environment that allows both parties to seriously do problem-solving on the negotiating table, not on the battlefield. Our opinion is that doing away with the international community would be a monumental blunder on the part of the Aquino regime. I hope President Aquino does not listen to the likes of Frank Drilon and Mar Roxas who may be his loyal partymates but who stand opposed to any just political settlement of the Mindanao conflict.

Moreover, there is a suggestion that President Aquino will tap Indonesia to facilitate the talks. This means the elimination of Malaysia as the current facilitator. We know that Indonesia is the closest ally of the GRP in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also presided over the political defeat of the MNLF in the MNLF-GRP peace talks. Indonesia is likewise the main sponsor of the GRP's bid for observer status in the OIC. Aquino is now reconfiguring the MILF-GRP peace process by eliminating Malaysia and limiting, if not doing away, with international community involvement beyond the OIC. The implication of this is that the ICG will have to eventually go. Malaysia did a good job at facilitation and is head of the IMT. Problem is, Aquino listens to people like Ging Deles of OPPAP who are hostile to Malaysian facilitation.

Earlier, DND Secretary V. Gazmin said the "rebels" should lay down their arms first. If this is the mindset of the Aquino regime, then Mindanao is in for the prolongation of the conflict. Aquino knows practically nothing of the Moro Question. As to belligerency status, this is no longer applicable in the current resolution of international sovereignty-based conflicts. The international dimension of the peace process underscores the need to resolve a conflict through a political compromise at the negotiating table; meaning, insofar as our case is concerned, that both parties in conflict can arrive at a political formula that would both satisfy the Philippine state's ideology of 'national sovereignty and territorial integrity' and the Bangsamoro people's right of self-determination. But if the Philippine state stubbornly insists on the primacy of its position and that the same should be the framework of any negotiation and, therefore, should dictate the rules of peace engagements, then peace talks are useless.

As such, the Bangsamoro nation has no recourse but to fight for political independence! This is what happened to Algeria when the Algerians fought for their independence from French colonialism. Remember, the MILF never demanded for a separate independent state in the negotiations. The MOA-AD was not asking for Moro independence but merely for the return of what is left of the Moro ancestral domain where the Moro people can exercise self-rule as a sub-state of the larger Philippine state. This is the best political compromise to the colliding positions of the GRP and the Bangsamoro. But this was "killed" by the Filipinos even before it could leave the table.

Now, with the unraveling mindset of the Aquino regime, the prospect for resolution is dim. Independence now seems to be the only practical way to liberate ourselves from Philippine colonialism in the light of Filipino obduracy over the historical and current injustices perpetrated on the Moro people. Let Allah (SWT) be the Final Arbiter in our struggle for liberation!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


As euphoria intensified at the inaugural of the 15th Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, thousands of well wishers throng to see gleefully the new dawn in Philippine politics while onlookers see the outgoing Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo come up to end her term of office not with flying colors to speak of but rather the widespread public dissatisfaction over her graft and scandal ridden government, rights abuses, question of illegitimacy as president after the exposé of Garci-Arroyo tapes revealing massive cheating in 2004 Polls involving top elections officials and military officers. All she earned from the “Filipino masses” was public scorn for disgracing the Presidency, the highest office in the land finally vacating the palace with the lowest ever popularity rating. As she step down, Many civil society groups and opposition groups wanted the new president to see Gloria Arroyo in jail.

Nonetheless, the Philippine Muslim community won’t let the pages of Philippine history come to pass without stating their case of how Pres. Arroyo treated the Mindanao Problem and reneged from her ‘all-out-peace policy” announced officially during her catapult to power in the 2001 EDSA II People Power. After nine long years in power, she will be leaving “a legacy of failed peace policy.” All high hopes of peace activists and peace loving Mindanaoans died in vain. Most critics blamed her government for insincerity and “double talk policy” reminiscent of Marcos Era. The MILF leaders accused the Arroyo regime had employed the peace negotiations not in the pursuit for genuine peace but as part of its instruments to further its national security strategic objective of containing all forces from national security threats of NPA’s insurgency, Moro secessionism leading to the dismemberment of the Republic, and expanding its role in the South East Asia as strategic partner in the US led War against Terror.

How could she fail? In fact, she had all the windows of opportunity to seize the moment of bringing to fold the Moro rebel group into an accord and embrace a just and meaningful peace. In my opinion, she could have taken strategic advantage of major contributory factors shaping up the new prospect and adequate opportunity for peace such as 1) the readiness of the MILF to talk peace, and the cooperative role of the Malaysian Government under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad as Third Country Facilitator and under their auspices hosted several rounds of peace parlays for nine (9) long years in power.

Most well-wishers from the civil society sector were jubilant then that after her pronouncement of renewed “primacy of peace policy” in 2005, more civil and peaceful approach will reign in difference to the “iron fist policy” that former Pres. Estrada carried along from the very start of his presidency. But again, we were all proven wrong and the “no peace, no war situation” persisted.

From a vantage point, we already hinted and saw all these coming. From the very start, Pres. Arroyo had been beholden to the military and acceded to Military generals led by Gen. Angelo Reyes successfully insinuating her to reverse the “all-out-peace policy” if only to sustain the military gains from the previous 2000 All-out-war campaign under Mr. Estrada and avoid AFP turning their back on her administration. After all these years, that she’s really up to, not for peace or but her survival? From then on she treated all related issues for Mindanao and peace differently.

In 2008, she showed the apparent lack of political will in forging with MILF an ad interim agreement. the controversial Memorandum of Agreement for Ancestral Domain soon to be signed in Malaysia, She could have invoked an executive privilege, a prerogative Presidential power vested under the presidency to reasonably quell the uproar from local executives opposed to the deal but instead of honoring its commitment to MILF and the Malaysian government, she had chosen to accede to the High Tribunal. Later, it reached unfavorable ruling on a much emotionally charged political not judicial issue against the backdrop of lost lives caused by the ensuing firefights between MILF fighters and Philippine military troopers in North Cotabato. In November, 2008, the deadlock resulted in humanitarian crisis with record high internal displacement of 733,000 (UNOCHA) persons drawing concern from various sectors and international community.

What legacy is she is boasting about peace in Mindanao? After all these, she had just proven she really catered only to patronage politics and will be remembered as inept and the penchant to protect the interests of most landed politicians and warlords at the expense of the peace and the oppressed landless Muslims in Mindanao. Thus, peace advocates are giving her a “FAILED MARK” and a scorn for her failure in the genuine pursuit for peace, human security and national reconciliation.

Now, that P-Noy is in and Cong. Gloria Arroyo is out, she has left the new administration inheriting the peace effort “deadlocked” by the Supreme Court ruling declaring ‘unconstitutional’ the MOA AD. In my analysis, any renewed peace negotiations will have tough sailing with MILF keeping its hard line position and an antagonistic Supreme Court under Chief Justice Corona. For another six years, the Mindanaoans leave the fate of the troubled land of Mindanao on the stewardship of Pres. Noynoy Aquino.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beyond Being Just Spectators, Bystanders in the Mindanao Conflict

“War or peace,” they come and go just like any other conflict elsewhere in the world, say in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, or Gaza in Palestine. Small wars it may seems. But the graphic images of deaths and destructions shown world wide by international and local TV networks touches our hearts and shakes our thoughts to witness in our very own eyes. All this long, we are ordinary bystanders, spectators, or onlookers to how brutal and ruthless these mighty nations who claim to be protectors their lofty ideals of democracy and freedom but trample defenseless peoples’ lives and dignity. Ancient warriors fought wars for glory and conquest of vast lands but in our days United States and its allies including the Philippines profit from wars at the expense of their hapless victims.

We knew they make peace whenever convenient for them and they wage war whenever beneficial for their interests. Aptly described by Prof. Maulawi Calimba in his Quadrant Theory of “No War, No Peace” treatise. The truth is they hang in the balance the complete resolution of these festering conflicts because it’s good for the business of those interest groups, they anyway profit the highest in the scheme of things. Land lords get to grab more lands, politicos gains more votes in elections in their new found turfs, junior military officers in Mindanao get fast promotions to generals and increase military financing more and more from annual government budgets and US military aid, and worst of all war industry boost huge profits and generate employment and opportunities.

Lest we forget at the domestic front, Philippines have got its own endless quagmires of four decades long of armed struggle of Mindanao’s native people called the “Bangsamoro” since 1968. The widespread Muslim revolt that intensified in early 1970s in Mindanao has brought ten of thousands of deaths and destruction with it already reaching billions worth of properties, economic opportunities not to mention the loss of billions of pesos from the government coffers as costs of wars for more than forty years and still counting until this moment.

The lessons in Gaza thought many of us that we cannot care less for all these troubles in our own backyard, we cannot be so naïve and continue acting as bystanders. Many Filipino leaders play rhetorics to bring peace the soonest possible time but refuse to make concessions and while embracing peace but with no readiness to take reasonable compromise and sacrifices. Especially for Mindanaoans, we cannot be forever leaving our fate to our selfish leaders and detractors of Mindanao peace.

Inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Michael Ahtisari, I am of the opinion many peace advocates, my colleagues in Maradeka in the Philippines and people all over the world with conscience look into the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao and act as critical observer. Though many may not be truly aware and understood the roots of the Mindanao conflict but it’s not really that too far away to be concerned and take stake responsibly in building national consensus for peace.

I felt it my personal responsibility then to launch and open this blogsite, Mindanao peace observer to serve the purpose. Before it reaches the level of intensity as those in the experiences in Kashmir, Tamil, Tibet or Palestine, we hope to join in spirit of bonding many like-minded bloggers without biases and prejudices in link up to share insights in ending these endless cycles of violence that breeds more violence and extremism. Be one of us in collectively doing the right thing.