The making of sustainable, borderless peace in Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 09:05

(From November 29 to December 5, 2012, Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) will spearhead the celebration of Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) in Zamboanga City with the theme  “Together Towards Sustainable Peace in Mindanao”. Here’s a reprint of the explanation behind this theme from PAZ.)

The local theme, “Together Towards Sustainable Peace in Mindanao,” of the Zamboanga City celebration of Week of Peace was adopted by the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP). In the rest of Mindanao, the theme as enunciated by the Bishops-Ulama Conference is “Love of God and Love of Neighbor, A Challenge for Mindanao”.

The local theme can mean differently to different stakeholders because of the different contexts and priorities in which they exist and aspire. But the common denominator for us all us as we share the same community and destiny should be that for the “peace” to be “sustainable” it is something that in form and sustance is inclusive, attainable and popularly supported.

The theme may have been inspired by the recent signing of the much-hailed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Agreement is widely perceived as both opportunity and challenge to build a just and enduring peace by the people living in the new, would-be autonomous Moro homeland. It is at the same time a goal that everyone in the country, but especially Mindanaoans, are increasingly realizing would require personal-level support to thereby be made sustainable not only in the Bangsamoro region but in the rest of an intertwined Mindanao society. Indeed, no “Bangsamoro” is an island, since peace has no borders.

Such is the concept of sustainable peace that forms the almost 3-year old Mindanao People’s Peace Agenda. The Agenda is not a roadmap like the Framework but a set of guideposts leading to a just peace for the multi-cultural communities and sectors in the region. These guideposts include right to self-determination for all cultural groups, rational use of natural resources and conservation of the ecology, rectifying the erroneous historical narratives about indigenous (including now Muslim) peoples, fostering good governance, and so forth. The network of peace-building groups Mindanao Peaceweavers formulated the Agenda through wide consultations with Mindanaoans and submitted it to Pres. Aquino within weeks after he assumed office.

Today, government, civil society and latter-day but painfully-growing ranks of peace converts are riding a growing peace-making momentum. The Mindanao peace process is only its most prominent part. In this epic struggle, we are far from being out of the woods, from overcoming our strife-torn past and stubborn culture of violence. The enemies of peace – they are not just people but imprisoning systems and structures, too – are still everywhere, taking the form of criminalities, poverty, gender and domestic abuse, environmental destruction, and so forth. This is why we shall continue to need such pro-active advocacies as the annual Week of Peace – till the day when each one of us can honestly say: I have overcome.

(For details of MWOP activity, call PAZ Office at 992-3086.Facebook account name is Peace Advocates Zamboanga.)

By Dante Corteza