Manila NGOs join call for IMT to stay

Led by the Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN), they said in a press statement that they "echo the sentiments of [their] Mindanao partners appealing for the IMT to stay and continue to support the ceasefire between the GRP and MILF."

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Philippines (GPPAC-Philippines), a civil society movement promoting conflict prevention, also said in a statement that it views "the IMT as an effective conflict prevention and early warning mechanism that facilitates and supports the resolution of the centuries-old Mindanao conflict."

Among other Manila-based organizations that joined the MNS statement are the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Generation Peace, and Anak Mindanao. They said they were "concerned over the reported downsizing and eventual pull-out" of the IMT.

The presence of IMT in Mindanao, they said, "is a vital component of the peace negotiations" between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The group cited that the 40-man Malaysian contingent in the IMT played a "significant role in the overall peace process in Mindanao. Its leading role has effectively maintained a situation conducive to peace negotiations and prevented armed hostilities between the conflicting parties in Mindanao."

Meanwhile, the Generation Peace, which is a national youth peace network, and the UNYPAD, a national Moro youth network for peace and development, have started gathering digital photos as "a form of petition signing for the IMT to remain in its crucial role."

The statement said that "these peace networks are appealing to the Malaysian government to reconsider its decision" while urging the government "to ensure definite progress in the peace process and demonstrate to Malaysia, and the rest of the international community and more especially to the Bangsa Moro People its resolve to conclude the peace negotiations and implement a peace agreement with the MILF."

On Monday, a lady-legislator from the first congressional district of Cotabato province also joined the peace advocates’ call for IMT to stay.

Rep. Emylou "Lala" Talino-Mendoza said she would also persuade her fellow Mindanao legislators to join her in calling for government to ask the Malaysian government to reconsider its decision.

This developed as Fr. Bert Layson, OMI, co-chair of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus, said that forums are also being conducted in communities affected by the war where people discuss how they could help persuade the government to stop the Malaysian government from abandoning the IMT.

While the Malaysian government is gradually pulling out their men from the IMT, it said it will continue to host the peace talks between the government and the MILF. (Romy Elusfa/special to MindaNews)

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