Advocacies & Activities

Tracing Roots of Conflict in Mindanao
Looking at the bottom of the never-ending wars and skirmishes in Mindanao will be a key to perchance understanding of Mindanao conflict.  Depending on one who looks into it, any tools of conflict analysis can benefit, either those who wanted to get a better strategic advantage as problem solvers or the military planners trying to concoct stratagems to defeat the “threats to human security and political stability.”
It will be helpful to peace institutions, decision makers and policy formulators to find discernment and craft appropriate, not the palliative, solutions. Even most of the academic and socio-political analysts including foreign aid agencies and think tank groups had invested remarkably large volume of their studies and efforts in attempt to contribute in addressing the longest conflict in the South East Asian region. Though, it gave us the impression that the past decade of War against Terror had drawn to a great extent attraction to the strategic studies of longest running Mindanao conflict.
Much of these researches, strategic studies, and conference reports are available in public and private research institutions where even the lay people can access and browse in various journals and websites. Quite noticeable is the apparent concern by even the United Nations, United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and European diplomatic initiatives to seriously dissect the issues through the civil society participation and facilitation of consensus building peace conferences and their fellows’ remarkable spelling out of viable peace formula that calls for enticing national consensus in bringing about fresh and new formula of peace in Mindanao. Obviously, our critical concern in Mindanao had been reaching global community’s attention.
The conflict situation becomes more complex when people don’t realize their little knowledge or ignorance to the extent makes matter highly complicated to get to the correct perspective of getting through a public consensus to work for peace and reach its final resolution. Even peace advocates find themselves entangled in boo-boos to disagreements because of their limited knowledge and acute perceptions about the roots of Mindanao conflict ending up in tussle over how to approach it. Even most writers and books’ authors do not grasp the bottom line of repetitive issues and underlying factors and an in-depth analysis of the cycle of violence in Mindanao.
On the basis of this loss of insights of the stark realities obtaining in the ground zero of Mindanao conflict is leading many decision-makers, policy-makers, legislators, and even journalists and political analysts can render slanted judgments, assessments and offered palliative solutions. More comprehensive understanding of the high complex situation is needed to formulate comprehensive solution. 

Mindanao Peace Observer: Brief Origin

The act of observing the progress of the Mindanao peace negotiations is an assertion of the participatory rights of civil society to political processes that foster national dialogue and reconciliatory mode to achieve peace and mutually acceptable political settlement.

This sort of “citizen watch” activity had been for ten (10) years in the making since 2000 when Nash Pangadapun acted as NGO Observer in the Organization of Islamic Conference-Special Mission to the Philippines on Oct. 13-25, 2000 to probe the accusation of the MNLF against the GRP’s violations of the peace agreement, but not quiet understood by many.

Some of our colleagues had the impression they called it “jet-setting” or an intrusion to the protocols of diplomatic and politically serious and highly confidential talks between and among contending parties and a mediating third party. It is not an ineffectual activity left just to become an adjunct to the company of negotiating parties and mediators.

We, however, make clear that this civil society involvement aside from critical observation on the integrity of the peace process, it complement the reduction of intensity of the highly complex conflict situation in Mindanao. These civil society groups acting as conduits of the people in the peace observer mechanism is promoting democratic participation and plans for national dialogues as a peaceful avenue to ventilate grievances of the people in the two way communication processes. It supports further the inclusiveness of all peoples and sectors in the Mindanao peace process.

In fact, the activities of peace observers was not new as we saw it happened in many previous peace talks elsewhere in the world such as but not limited in the conflicts in Ache, North Ireland, Sudan, and East Timor. Domestic and international peace observers acted as citizen watchdog and pressure groups to ensure that the public policy and commitment for peace was observed and honored by the protagonists and the transparency in the substance of the peace agreement become truly reflective of the peoples’ aspiration.

Besides, there is a unique case in the Philippines of intransigence to genuine peace. The proverbial saying, “lights off and on” or aptly the Prof. Calimba’s quadrant theory of “No Peace , No War” was how we can describe the elusive peace in Mindanao. The more the civil society has become convinced not to sit in the sideline merely as spectators because the bottom line was the destructible consequences make its adverse impact to the people and the national economy.

Thus the imperative of civil society participation to strengthen this mechanism as an innovative approach to peace building and conflict resolution strategy is of paramount importance.