Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An alarming and frightening situation in Mindanao

Letter of Concern:
From: Philippinenbüro im Asienhaus
To: facinco

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

please find attached an urgent action of our Actionnetwork Human Rights - Philippines regarding the alarming and frightening situation in Mindanao. Please feel free to send and circulate this letter of concern to President Arroyo, the Supreme Court, the MILF and the OPAPP (postal adresses and emailadresses included in the file at the end of the letter).
We hope and pray that the involved actors will find a solution to end the suffering of the civilians trapped in the crossfire.

Kind regards,
Maike Grabowski

Photo: Left ; MILF fighters,; AFP Armored personnel carriers patrol streets; right: Separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters conduct field manoeuvers as they wait for the resumption of peace talks with the Philippine government at Camp Darapanan, in Sultan Kudarat on Mindanao island February 20, 2008. MILF leader Muhamad Murad has said talks being brokered by Malaysia are to resume in

I would like to express my serious concern regarding the current conflict in central Mindanao. Due to the recent outbreak of war in Mindanao more than 70,000 people had become internally displaced and rely on humanitarian aid and on the conflicting parties to stop fighting. I would like to appeal to all actors in the conflict, the MILF, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) as well as local politicians and other armed groups to refrain from the use of violent force and adhere to the agreed peace process. (above Photo:

The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) recently issued by the Supreme Court has stalled the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA). While I consider this a major setback in the quest for peace, I believe that the Supreme Court shouldn’t allow itself to become a stumbling block in resolving a political conflict that requires a political solution. I therefore appeal to the Supreme Court to lift the TRO and allow the peace process to move forward.

There is a need for continued consultation, transparent dialogue and information on the MOA, not only in Mindanao, but in all of the Philippines. The MOA is the result of 110 consultative sessions between the MILF and the GRP since 2004. It embodies important aspirations of the Bangsamoro struggle, such as the right to self-determination as well as the commitment of the government to address the historic inequalities at the root of the conflict.

It is vital that these aspirations will not be used for any other agenda and that the accomplishments of the peace process will be honoured. Particularly those politicians who may feel threatened by the changes the MOA will bring about should be reminded of the fundamental right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people as recognized under international law. The GRP should clearly intervene here to prevent further escalation. Inflammatory propaganda and militarisation on behalf of those who may loose from the MOA must not poison the relationship between the people of Mindanao.

With regard to current discussions on a charter change in connection to the MOA, I would like to point out that while there will indeed be a need for comprehensive legislative action with the signing of the MOA, it is premature to pursue these changes before the presidential election in 2010. According to the timeframe of the MOA it will take the parties twelve (12) months after the signing to proceed with the plebiscite and a total of fifteen (15) months to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact. Given this timeframe there won’t be enough time to undertake charter changes via the GRP-MILF talks.

I appeal to all actors in the conflict to listen to the peaceful voices of the civilians and refugees in Mindanao – the Bangsamoro people, indigenous people and migrant settlers alike and to address the grievances at the root of the conflict.

Kind Regard

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