The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) is alarmed by the events unfolding in Zamboanga City. The violent clashes, reportedly between forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have already killed at least two (2) and injured several individuals, and forced hundreds to leave their homes.
We exhort the leaders of both sides to call for a ceasefire and avert the escalation of violence and avoid further loss of lives and damage to property. A “zero sum” mindset will not save lives, nor will it gain the capitulation of either side.
We ask all the parties of influence in the region to unite and work together for peace, instead of resorting to violence. We should focus on the improvement of the socio-economic and political condition of our people.
However, we also caution government not to be too hasty in its actions against the rebellious forces. Our information suggests that MNLF leaders, disgruntled over the non-implementation of the 1996 Government-MNLF Final Peace Agreement, are participant in the rebellion. Government and the MNLF, assisted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, had dialogued for over two years to negotiate consensus points to remedy the problems of implementation of the FPA. We at PCID have cautioned regarding the deleterious effect of isolating the MNLF led by Chair Nur Misuari. If the Bangsamoro is the Moro Nation, then it cannot be divided into MNLF and MILF communities. It therefore stands to reason that the MILF and MNLF leadership must come together to work for peace and development for the Bangsamoro.
We at PCID reiterate our support for a peaceful transformation of the Bangsamoro and Mindanao and strengthen our call for lasting peace and respect for human life and human rights.