Friday, 24 February 2012 10:55
The subject matter of last Saturday’s (February 18) monthly meeting of the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) was an in-depth review of the Mindanao People’s Peace Agenda (MPPA). Almost a hundred Muslim and Christian members coming from various professions, religious organizations, the youth and civil societies were in attendance.
The MPPA was completed almost two years ago by the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), a network of peace and civil society organizations, after it conducted a series of consultations with various sectors throughout Mindanao. The incumbent MPW lead convenor is Fr. Angel Calvo, president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga and likewise convenor of IRSMP.
MPW, through its secretariat Institute for International Dialogue (IID), submitted a copy of the MPPA to President Aquino soon after he assumed office.
MPPA is made up of 15 “points of action”, but Jude Cabusao, IID’s Manager for Human Security and Peace-Building Program, focused his discussion with the IRSMP on three overarching themes of the Agenda. These themes are organized in the form of corresponding policy briefs or papers.
The first advocates and calls for clearer and stronger policies and efforts to realize the “right to self-determination” (RSD) for all peoples, but particularly the Bangsamoros and lumads, in Mindanao.
Cabusao noted that the only Constitutional provision on self-determination refers to “external self-determination” in that the nation asserts its right to govern itself free from interference by other nations. The discussion bared the need to amend the Constitution to enable ethnic minorities in the country to achieve RSD.
In relation to the ongoing peace talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the policy paper noted that “the GPH peace panel should categorically recognize in its proposal the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro. This should facilitate greater clarity and understanding of the premise of the negotiations and the discussion of specific proposals and counterproposals.”
RSD, Cabusao said, should cover “autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, including culture, religion, education, information, media, health, housing, employment, social welfare, economic activities, land and resources management, environment and entry by non-members, as well as ways and means of financing these autonomous functions.”
The second theme is a call to “sustain peace and the peace process”. The policy brief began by saying that “It would be erroneous to think that the peace process and peace building are confined to the negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and rebel groups. On the contrary, the negotiations are but part of the entire gamut of non-violent initiatives, strategies, programs, structures, relationships, and programs to address the root causes of the long drawn-out conflict in the country and attain peace.” It urged for more intensive “efforts by the church, the academe, and other members of civil society to create possibilities for mutual understanding, respect, trust, and peaceful coexistence among the peoples involved in the conflict.”
The third theme refers to government’s responsibility to take care of internally displace persons, particularly the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Mindanao war. Throughout the world , “The Philippines recorded the highest number of IDPs at 600,000 as of December 2008. Sudan and Kenya followed with 550,000 and 500,000, respectively,” the paper noted. It was in 2008 when the MILF briefly attacked several towns after the signing of the negotiated Memorandum of Agreement in Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was stopped by the Supreme Court.
The signing of the “1996 Final Peace Agreement” between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) may have lessened fighting but did not bring about a broad and durable peace in Mindanao. It will be equally naïve to think that any forthcoming settlement with MILF will result in instant and total peace. Rather, it is small and big achievements and measures like the recent awarding by government of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title” (CADT) to the Subanens of Limpapa and thereabout communities that lead to just and true peace for our entire society.
The Subanens are among the most “internally displaced persons” in Mindanao, having been forced out of their original ancestral domain – practically the whole of the Zamboanga Peninsula centuries ago – by various invaders and settlers to live in shrinking mountainous villages by today.
Yet, immediately after word got out that the National Commission on Indigenous People’s have after decades of negotiations by the Subanens finally granted their demand for a legally-secure ancestral domain, the city government quickly passed a resolution calling for the cancellation of the CADT.
Truly, the need for peace education and promotion of a “culture of peace” for our people and leaders is far greater than we believe or comprehend. (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)
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