Greetings for a fruitful new year to all of us!
Coincidentally, Istambay sa Mindanao opens 2009 with a total of 1,000 posts since November 2004!
Looking forward to another great year of blogging ahead of us!
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Central Committee has issued a five-point declaration on the resumption of talks with the Philippine government. MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim issued the statement dated December 26 but released to the media on December 27.
The points are as follows:
Before the GRP-MILF Peace Talks resume, there must be an international guarantee composed of states or association of states, which will provide guarantee that both the GRP and MILF will honor and implement agreement or agreements forged by the parties. This will give the assurance that the MOA-AD tragedy will not be repeated anymore;
“Both sides resolve the issue of the MOA-AD which the MILF viewed as ‘done deal’ in contravention to GRP’s ‘no deal’ and ‘unconstitutional’ stance;
“The International Monitoring Team (IMT) will be allowed to discharge its duties and functions, as contained in the IMT Term of Reference (TOR) including the investigation of all the violations of the ceasefire since July 1, 2008 up to the present;
“The AFP immediately cease military offensive in Mindanao against the MILF even in the guise of running after its three ‘rogue commanders,’ pursuant to and in compliance with the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace on June 22, 2001 in order to put a halt to the mass evacuation of people as well as the accompanying destruction to houses, farmlands, working animals, and other properties, pursuant to the Relief, Rehabilitation, and Humanitarian Aspect of the same Agreement; and
“Malaysia will stay as facilitator of the peace talks.”
While praying for silence in the battlefields, Bukidnon Bishop Honesto Pacana called on both government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to keep on talking and never to allow times of silence in the peace process.
Pacana said the silence of the guns is not enough unless there is continuing dialogue between the two parties.
The bishop described to MindaNews the peace process situation at the moment as “experiencing silence.” He said the ongoing hostilities are a proof of that as he appealed for a continuing peace process.
He has called for prayers among the Catholics for peace as they celebrate Christmas in his homily for the first morning mass on December 16 at the San Isidro Cathedral.
He has appealed to the faithful to include in their prayers peace in the country, especially in Mindanao.
Pacana said even if Bukidnon is not directly within conflict areas related to the GRP-MILF problem, it has its own peace issues.
That the informal peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is due to resume soon offers a reflection in our role as informal observers of the peace process that gained hold, then lost it somehow.
The MindaNews report GRP, MILF ‘informal talks’ to start ‘possibly’ by Dec. 22 didn’t quite tell there is a reason to celebrate (even if the news comes before Christmas and a fear of worsening situation on the ground).
Of course any kind of talk is always better than any form of violence. We all wish for peace, not just for Christmas but once and for all –for good.
As much as we want to get excited, we can’t just lose hold off the ground. At one point this could be a genuine press release.
But it could also be to serve the interests of some parties.
We might have a peace talks fatigue but we also cannot afford to let war just unfold.
I am nosing for enough sincerity, the one that could get them to sit in front each panel and talk, and relieve Mindanawons from the stress.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has named Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis as chair of the new government panel that will resume peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), reports tell us.
But what I think is a striking reaction to this news is a comment from Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Cotabato City-based Institute of Bangsamoro Studies.