GPH, MILF panels urged to ‘de-escalate violence’ PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:49

Civil society organizations are urging both government and the Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF) peace panels to “use urgently the mechanisms” set up both parties to “de-escalate the violence.”

The Mindanao Commission on Women and the Mothers for Peace said the  International Monitoring Team (IMT) “should immediately investigate the incident and make a report to the parties” and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities “should be convened to determine how to de-escalate the violence.”
“This mechanism was set up precisely for this type of incident.  Let the government and the MILF use it,” the MCW said in a press statement.

Leaders of the Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace and other Bangsamoro civil society groups  in South-Central Mindanao urged both the government and the MILF to “maintain their maximum coolness and sobriety in the light of the recent Basilan carnage.”

“We agree that these unfortunate events that resulted to the death of 19 soldiers and 6 BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) with more than a dozen wounded in action (WIA) may have been avoided if there has been a functional mechanism- the Ceasefire agreement that they both signed. For the bereaved families of those killed in action, we condole and sympathize with them. For the WIA, we pray for their recovery,” the Bangsamoro CSO statement said.

“The country is divided on this issue. The majority-the non Muslims are emotionally upset so they want an immediate retaliation, an ALL OUT WAR. The minority-the Muslims and some sympathetic to the Bangsamoro struggle for self determination want it investigated first. The President himself wants it investigated first before taking any drastic steps,” the statement added.

The Bangsamoro CSOs said they support the President’s call for an impartial investigation. “Let us not allow the detractors of peace to overtake our ardent desire for peace.”

In a statement, the Ranaw Youth for Peace and Sustainable Development, said the incidents in Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay and Lanao del Norte are “isolated cases” and called on the public to “work together for the attainment of peace and final resolution to the Bangsamoro problem, having in mind that in war, there is so much to waste while so much to gain in peace.”

“We condemn the hawks and war mongers from national leaders and media. We are with President Aquino’s cause for peace. We care for this country,” the statement issued by Abdul Alibasa, said.

The MCW also appealed to the media “to be responsible in their reportage. There is power in every word and every image that you print or air.  Your stories have the power to sow peace or to incite war.  An irresponsible story could stoke anger and prejudice that could lead to louder and louder calls for war.  War ravages communities, disrupts lives, and breaks families apart.  We must, at all cost, prevent another war,” it said.

It also expressed support to President Aquino’s commitment to peace despite calls for “all-out war.”

“We hope that all parties to the conflict overcome this latest challenge to the peace negotiations, by acting not as angry warriors out to seek revenge, but as peacebuilders resolutely seeking peace,” the MCW said.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, in a press statement  released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said that in consultation with the four other governors of the  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, mayors in Sulu, community leaders and sectoral groups, the decision of the President not to wage an “all-out war” against the MILF despite the incidents in Basilan and other areas, “deserves the undivided support of all peace-loving peoples in the region.”

“War mongering will only worsen the situation and stokes sentiments that are divisive and counter-productive,” Tan said, adding the gains achieved thus far in the peace process “should be preserved and peaceful means of engagement with concerned group(s) should be continued.”

Tan said the sacrifices of the soldiers who fell at Al Barka were “for the preservation of peace and security of the republic and we condole with the families and loved-ones they left behind, as we also pray that their deaths will not lead to more loss of lives and feed the vicious cycle of violence.”

But he also said sobriety is necessary “in these trying times and patience should prevail to give peace a surviving chance.” — MindaNews