BY THE PHILIPPINE COUNCIL FOR ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY
Posted by Bulatlat.com
Vol. VIII, No. 31, September 7-13, 2008
Government has just announced that it has dissolved the peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which according to the Palace is “consistent with the President’s new policy of no longer talking with armed groups but authentic dialogues with communities.”
The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy strongly disagrees with this latest decision from the government that ironically came a day after the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), an agreement that was successfully signed in 1996 but problematically implemented. This is a decision that we feel is not motivated by the desire to achieve peace in Mindanao but is intended to sanitize the mess it created with respect to the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domains (MOA-AD).
PCID views this as a serious setback to peace in Mindanao. It lay to waste the efforts of both peace panels over the past ten years. PCID commends the efforts of the GRP Peace Panel through the leadership of Gen. Rodolfo Garcia and the MILF Peace Panel chaired by Mohagher Iqbal for their indefatigable commitment to reach a just agreement for peace in Mindanao.
The series of missteps the government has taken including the decision to renege on its commitments by not signing the MOA-AD and the dissolution of the peace panel are serious blows to the government’s credibility in talking peace. How can any rebel group now be assured that the government will not turn its back on its commitment because of the political hysterics of some personalities? Isn’t the dissolution of the peace panel an admission of the failed peace policy of Arroyo’s administration?
Mrs. Arroyo also stated: “We must bring stability in the region and regain order before we can effectively reactivate the peace process in earnest.” She added, “Let me take this opportunity to be very clear to those elements who seek disruption and destruction. There will be no peace gained through violence. No peace agreement will be reached through intimidation or the barrel of the gun.”
We couldn’t agree more. But if she were sincere in that pronouncement, why doesn’t she exert effort to ensure that a ceasefire commences which would put a halt to the conflict in Mindanao? Is government’s strategy of achieving peace accomplished by destroying it? Government cannot advocate peace through press releases. It has to institute confidence-building measures so that the fighting will stop. And dissolving the peace panel at this time is certainly not the correct signal to send for peace.
PCID would like to reiterate its vehement condemnation of the violence that has cost the lives of civilians in Mindanao. We believe that the perpetrators should be brought to justice. But there is already a ceasefire mechanism in place that has been very effective in reducing violence in the past.
Government cannot raise an olive branch with one hand and carry a gun with the other.
From the Office of Amina Rasul
Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy
Unit 2D Tower 1 Governor’s Place Condominium
Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City