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Civil society’s roadmap to Mindanao Peace

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Civil society groups in Mindanao who are particularly involved in peace-building are increasingly assuming by force of necessity a strategic role in the current efforts to peacefully resolve the Bangamoro rebellion.

More than any previous Malacanang administration, PNoy’s incumbent one seems to understand more how extremely complex the issues and stakes are, benefiting from the lessons from the failures or shortcomings of earlier peace agreements and negotiations. The President and his peace team appear to have realized that without the widest possible consensus and long-term support of key stakeholders in Mindanao, not even another newfangled peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will result in real peace and quiet in the Mindanao.  And so the government and MILF, too, now look more and more to civil society to help them resolve the seemingly endless issues and challenges.

The situation prompted Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and its allies Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), Davao-based Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and network of networks Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW) to sponsor a regional forum on the “Mindanao People’s Peace Agenda” (MPPA) on June 19 - 20 in Zamboanga City. Some 70 participants, mostly from ZAMBASULTA and a few others from other provinces in Mindanao, including four from Thailand, brainstormed in workshops on how to hasten along the peace negotiation between the MILF and Philippine government. They represented the region’s academe, NGOs, youth and professional and rebel groups, etc.

Asked how they feel about the status of the talks in Kuala Lumpur, the participants expressed both hope and despair in near equal measures. Hope because both sides continue to dialogue despite the tough issues on the table, and the interim working framework they agreed during the April round. Despair mainly because the sheer number of stakeholders involved and uncertainty over their sincerity and goodwill, including government’s and to whom it is beholden.

The forum took note of the cacophony of peace-oriented advocacies in Mindanao.  For this, MPW aims to become the “receptacle”, as IID’s executive director Gus Miclat called it, of all these, so that Mindanao’s civil society can present a coherent front to the peace negotiators and all others concerned.
MPPA is the omnibus roadmap to Mindanao inclusive peace that MPW formally framed after grassroots consultations since two years ago. More about its 15-point agenda in the next blogs. (

By Peace Advocates Zamboanga




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