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Reading the 11-point summaries of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks in Kuala Lumpur

When I used to cover Davao City, I have become more familiar with the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. Even if it is only the committees on the cessation of hostilities who meet, they issue a joint statement to some how shed light on the coverage of meeting.

I expected this from the talks in KL but the reports said there was none.This is not a good sign, if we look at it that way.  I think having no joint statement is more sincere an act, than forcing one when there is none.Is it right to have one just to play with symbolism?

Many people expected a lot from the talks. After that “historic” meeting in Japan between President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF’ chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the stakes are high on “expediting the peace process”.

As a journalist who covered this from afar, my reading is, are we supposed to mistake “expediting the process” with taking short cuts? Unless we expected the negotiators to be rubbing on a bottle for a genie to make wishes easily his command. Read More…

Changing the world starting from one’s dining table

On the road to a resort in Lianga, Surigao del Sur late on October 28, our Grassroots Documentation and Reporting Training Team talked about the application of science in the food that we eat.

It was a humorous but “meaty” chatter. The usual one you get into inside the vehicle while heavy rains slow your trip down. A check on the time piece showed dinner should go ahead before check in.

We talked about the chicken in the fast food chains. We talked about the poultry products in our breakfast table. Then the conversation extended to the synthetics of food preparation in the world of fast food chains and how they alter way of life and relationships. Fast food vs. slow food. Old vs. new ways to prepare food. We also talked about that World Toilet Summit in Beijing (yeah, but that’s another thing.)

Just a week before, I sat next to a Vegan. Is that how you call people who live on plant-based diet?

So I had some inputs to make in the car ‘conversation’: that natural diet is a healthier choice.

When we arrived at the resort and dinner was served later, I was shocked to find fried chicken on the table. Wew! While most of us skipped it at least as the main course, I find it very funny.The caterer later on told us they failed to follow the agreed food requirements.

We usually have nice conversations on health and diet; very nice,  that we often do not see them in our decisions and actions.

The simple reflection I got during the chatter was quiet an awakening.

If I want to correct what for me were unhealthyfood  decisions, I should rather start it on my dining table.

Back in Malaybalay, I wanted to bring the reflection closer to home.

I immediately shared about the advantages of this diet choice. I felt it was welcomed, in the light homecoming conversation. But I realized its not going to be easy.

When you are not the only one deciding in the kitchen, the market day, and the budget, there will be complications on your desire to initiate or explore a healtheir diet.

This thing about science, technology and food is quite a sensitive topic at home. Because of preferences and primarily due to the lack of time to prepare with everyone working for a living and not being able to afford hiring a househelp.

I realized it requires mass-based, proper and open consultations with every one concerned at home. It requires education about diet, health, among other things.

We even need rules on how to talk about it (why and how are we going to change the menu that has been our choice through time?) We need information and communication. We need not only one-sided information dissemination. We need to listen to one another. (Now this sounds like the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front already.).

Anyway, we also cannot miss out on the environment or the market.

The poultry industry, despite the talk of unhealthy hybrid/synthetic-based production (millions of eggs in how many days?) is a big and multi-million industry.

If you look at trimming it down you are looking at cutting on the feeds sector, and eventually the corn industry for example.

From my window in Kalasungay, I can smell the odor of poultry farms in Patpat, our neighbor village in Malaybalay City.

What I thought are micro personal choices and basic human rights will have bearing on the world economy!

Likewise, the choices we make in our kitchens are  affected by the choices offered by the market. Its an economic structure embedded into our way of life.

I remembered a colleague expressed his potent view over that dinner in Lianga: “That’s why most of us often get sick” and “that’s why doctors and hospitals are making money.”

Who is winning if we are losing? Such a formidable foe I supposed.

I missed the forum organized by anti- GMO (genetically modified organism) groups (sorry for this label) or should I say pro-organic farming groups last week in Bukidnon State University where Bt Talong took centerstage.It should have been a venue for critical information.

We all need to look at these options laid on the table by modern science and technology. Science does wonders, too. I think what we must remember is that “modern” doesn’t always mean healthy.

That’s why I still wanted to offer my two-cents worth in the big cloud and inter-gallactic movement for change.

I start going natural and fry-free food for breakfast, at least. I hope it will snowball into something more significant.(The folks at home do not entirely like this move at all.)

But like the ripple effect, it starts from baby steps.

Maybe if we change what we eat for meals at home, we help change the landscape of our farms and plantations.  (End)

‘Boodle fight’ to ‘boodle peace’: from warriors to peace builders

Counting how many battles fought, enemies killed, and firearms recovered has been among the usual indicators in an official’s military scoreboard.

But it’s got to change, military officials tell new generation officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Mindanao.

Col. Julieto Ando, of the Eastern Mindanao Command, has stressed this point to junior military officers who attended the Operation Peace Course (OPKORS), a conflict management and peace building training, now on its seventh in a series, organized by the AFP, Balay Mindanao Foundation Inc. and other partners.

“Instead, count how many enemies you have convinced back to the folds of law,” Ando said in his presentation on “The Challenge: Towards Fresher Perspectives”.

He said it involves changing perspectives from calling “boodle fights” to “boodle peace” at the least to building consensus and partnerships with other stakeholders to win peace.

The new mindset for military operations in Mindanao, he said, calls for more focus on building rather than destroying. Read on.

MILF’s five-point declaration on the peace process

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.”

Read full report at MindaNews.com.

Bishop Pacana: Let there be no silence in the peace process

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.

Read a full report on MindaNews.com.


Good news that draws suspicion than anticipation

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.

On the appointment of new GRP panel chair

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. 

He said in a story carried by MindaNews.com that whoever heads the government’s negotiating panel is “secondary in importance.” Read More…