?One with you in pushing for resumption of GRP-MILF talks?

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, whose message for the “All-Mindanao Leaders Peace Consultation” convened by the BUC was read by Vice Mayor Luis Bonguyan, said: “We are strongly in favor of this process and will support you in any way we possibly can.”

 

Duterte was referring to the series of peace consultations the BUC started in Mindanao to help persuade the government and the MILF to go back to the peace negotiation table and resolve the impasse by talking.

 

The two-day BUC-initiated peace consultation, which gathers ranking business, religious, political and community leaders in Mindanao, aims to consolidate peoples’ suggestions on how to move the stalled talks forward.

 

At the opening ceremony today, Duterte’s message, read by Bonguyan, stressed: “We are all Filipinos, made up of different races, religious and cultures yet all of us belong to one country. We may not always get along, still there are other ways to resolve certain issues other than armed conflict.”

 

The message ended with Duterte’s assurance that “the city government of Davao is one with you and will continue to support the aims of attaining peace through peaceful means.”

 

As this developed, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), one of the seven big organizations that serve as secretariat to the consultation, also reiterated its call for the government and the MILF to go back to the negotiation table, saying they will also “do all it can to bridge the government and the MILF.”

 

Prof. Octavio Dinampo, a council member of MPC who came all the way from Jolo, said that after the consultation they will send a delegation of community leaders to meet the President, senators and congressmen in Manila and “convince them to exert more efforts and political will to influence both parties to go back to the negotiation table.”

 

While Dinampo did not specify what they would suggest for the President to do to break the impasse, he emphasized: “The community leaders themselves will tell the President of the miserable experience they suffered during the past wars and that they could not allow another war to happen now that they have yet to recover from the adverse effects of the past wars to their communities.”

 

He emphasized that while their group has some suggestions on how to possibly resolve the impasse, Dinampo said they would leave it to the government and the MILF to figure out what is the best solution to salvage the talks.

Rexall Kaalim, another council member of MPC, said that while they engage Malacanang, Senate and Congress, their communities are also planning a “Bakwit Power” where they will “mobilize our members and networks in airing our demand for government and MILF to continue talking.”

 

Kaalim relayed that the communities that are likely to be affected by an armed conflict should the talks ultimately collapse have already started preparing contingency plans for evacuation, “but they are calling on everyone to please help us avert any threat of another war.”

 

Bapa Joe Akman, another MPC council member specifically addressed his call to the Christians, saying “we the Muslims and Lumads are already very visible and active in our campaign for peace, but where are our Christian brothers? We hope we will all join in this campaign because all of us will also be affected and would see each other in evacuation centers if war erupts in Mindanao again.”

 

Akmad said that even the business sector should actively support them because their businesses are also at stake in war.