Never too late to press for sustainable peace PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 14:35

Today’s meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) is a critical measure of the strength of mind of the leadership of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hasten the realization of a political settlement of the armed conflict in Mindanao.

The GPH and MILF must ensure that the JCCH will act swiftly to prevent further loss of lives. Furthermore, relevant mechanisms of the peace talks such as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) must act immediately and help defuse the situation. The recent encounter in Al-Barka, Basilan illustrates the fragile nature of the ceasefire agreement and the difficulty in maintaining the truce. It would be supremely tragic if the continuing loss of lives will hold back the voices peace and allow those seeking total war to triumph.

Beyond determining culpability for the recent spate of alleged violations to the ceasefire agreement, the GPH and MILF must comprehend that each day spent in endless negotiations is an equal moment of delay in giving justice to the hundreds of thousands who have been maimed, displaced, traumatized and worst killed, in the course of the armed conflict.

All must mourn the senseless deaths in Basilan and elsewhere in Mindanao, thus it is even-handed to call for justice. However, the supreme injustice that could happen is to cry out for more soldiers, mujaheedin and innocent civilians to die either under total war or in never-ending negotiations pockmarked by violence.

It is never too late to press for peace, but the time to give justice and meaning to all victims of the war in Mindanao by means of a negotiated political settlement is NOW.