Malacanang, 16 embassies to receive ?Grassroots Lobby for Peace?

Sixteen embassies have also committed to meet the delegation  of 16 Mindanao leaders who will be joined by five Manila-based leaders of  civil society organizations and religious leaders.

Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus  (MPC) the organizer of the “Grassroots Lobby for Peace,” said that aside  from Dureza, Bishop Efraem Tendero, one of President Arroyo’s advisers, will  also meet the lobby group on October 25 at 8 in the morning.

Arnado said they want the President to “renew her earlier commitment  to adopt an all-out-peace policy for Mindanao” while expressing their wish for the Chief Executive to “exercise greater political will to effect a resumption of the GRP-MILF talks.

Earlier, the Bishops-Ulama Conference, in coordination with the Mindanao PeaceWeavers and the MPC, convened the “All-Mindanao Leaders Peace Consultation” to find creative suggestions to push the peace talks forward by breaking the present impasse.

Among the suggestions that surfaced in the consultation, that the MPC has adopted, is to suggest for the GRP and the MILF to “instead of being trapped with processes limited by the Constitution, which the government wants amended, consider applicable international laws, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that have guided and helped resolve a number of internal disputes in many countries all over the world.”

Arnado said she has also requested Dureza’s office to also invite some other cabinet officials, like the secretaries of the Interior and Local Government, Justice, Social Welfare and Development, the Police, to join them in a 1 p.m. meeting at the OPAPP.

The delegates, who will be flying to Manila from the cities of Zambaonga, Cagayan, Cotabato and Davao, will also join two separate round-table discussions with Manila-based experts on breaking the impasse in the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Arnado said that the main objective of their mission is to “lobby for the resumption of the formal negotiations” between the government and the MILF,  but added that they will also try to meet Manila-based civil society organizations to “campaign for a national stakeholdership over the Mindanawons’ peace and development agenda.”
Among the 16 foreign embassies that would be meeting the MPC delegation at the RCBC Building in Makati at 1:30 in the afternoon of October 26 are European Union, United States, Canada, Japan, Sweden and Malaysia. “We want to make them (diplomatic community) understand that all their previous, present and future efforts face voidance in the event the GRP-MILF peace talk collapses,” Arnado said, referring to foreign funded peace and development projects in Mindanao.

Arnado, who said their activities are open for journalists to cover, said that they will also hold a press conference at the Sulu Hotel on October 27 at 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Among the members of the delegation are Timuay Melanio Ulama, MPC chair, Fr. Bert Layson, parish priest of Pikit in North Cotabato, Jose Akmad and Octavio Dinampo, all co-chairs of MPC.


From the war affected communities in Mindanao, Babu Umbai Maliganan, an elderly woman, will join the delegation along with Lumad Woman Leader Bai Liza Saway.