July 26, 2008
In the light of the renewed collapse of the GRP-MILF talks in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, it is obvious that the opponents of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain have once again succeeded in frustrating the efforts of the negotiation. With veiled threats of constitutional challenge, legal battles, communal violence and plain hysteria, we missed to grasp peace just when the Peace Panels have come closest to it.
In the name of the women and children and ordinary civilians in the conflict-affected areas, we urge both principals in the negotiation to uphold, sustain and defend the consensus points in the negotiations. Let us not allow politicians and vested interest groups to hostage the peace talks with their own economic and political interests. Let us not be swayed by the noise of a few loud personalities who are desperately protecting their own interests.
We appeal to both parties to continue finding viable options and solutions until we finally reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
We express strong disappointment over some statements and threats which vowed to kill the peace agreement even at this time when the Peace Panels are yet to give birth to the MOA on Ancestral Domain. We do not deserve this kind of demeanor coming from political leaders who, instead of forging unity among its people, are in fact the ones fanning hatred and violence.
Today is the time for us to examine the interests of those who block efforts of the peace process. It is time that we come together to engage in a meaningful dialogue, surface the fears and exchange notes in order to achieve understanding and unity.
We appeal to President Arroyo to sustain the primacy of the peace process and defend this policy against political pressures and vested interests including those coming from her own allies. The postponement of the ARMM election could have been a good step towards that direction.
Obviously, we are racing against time. With the final pullout of the International Monitoring Team come August and with no discussion on the extension of their tour of duty, war looms in many corners of Mindanao. Ordinary people, not our politicians and leaders, will be the ones to pay the consequences of the opposition to the MOA. This is where our hearts just bleed, out of frustration and sheer desperation, at the kind of leaders who are at the helm in Mindanao at this point in our history. We need leaders who will bring the people to an era of peace and development, not those who irresponsibly condemn us to war and violence, while they spend their quiet evenings in the city life of Davao, Manila or elsewhere.
MPC reiterates its call for the formal resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks and the signing of the MOA on Ancestral Domain as a critical step towards showing the concrete result and progress in the negotiation. (30)
ATTY. MARY ANN M. ARNADO
Mindanao Peoples Caucus