Peaceniks renew call for UN-supervised referendum on Mindanao?s future

They said the referendum would include the following options: genuine autonomy; independent Federal Republic of Mindanao comprising Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan; independent Bangsamoro State or enhanced autonomy covering the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and contiguous territories predominantly occupied by Bangsamoro people; federal Bangsamoro State within a Federal Republic of the Philippines; and enhanced autonomy for Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan.

In a declaration, they reiterated their suggestion to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and government negotiating panels to include in the proposed peace agreement the holding of such referendum.

The declaration says that “Mindanaoans have long suffered so much bloodshed and continuing crisis by oppression, injustice, discrimination and ignorance and that they believe that the road to lasting peace is unity amidst diversity, through respect of each others right to self-determination, distinct cultures and political and religious beliefs.”

“It is our collective desire and aspiration in our pursuit for self-determination to formulate peaceful and democratic alternatives to effectively and finally put an end to the long running conflict and realize our time-honored aspiration – lasting and genuine peace,” it adds.

The declaration further states: “The right to self-determination is inherent to all peoples, whether Lumad, Moro or Mindanao Migrants and their descendants. For as long as these people are continually oppressed and marginalized, they will continue their fight against oppression in order to protect their rights and identity. Thus, they will relentlessly pursue their aspirations. And now, the Indigenous Peoples, the Moro and the Migrants and their descendants commit to work together as united people of
Mindanao.”

The participants also condemned the attempt of the House of Representatives to fast track the changing of the 1987 Constitution as a selfish endeavor and one that favors the interest of multinational companies.

“If ever the Constitution will be changed, it should guarantee the right of the people to secede if they so desire in the exercise of their right to self-determination,” they said.

They also called on the Senate to reject the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), saying it will allow the Japanese to export toxic and hazardous wastes to the Philippines.

They further demanded for the establishment of a Human Rights Commission in Sulu, immediate pullout of American troops from the island province, gradual pullout of the military, and giving the local police more professional training and better equipment to make them more effective in handling peace and order problems.

The summit ended Saturday night with colorful native dances and a peace concert.

Lamitan Mayor Roderick Furigay thanked the participants and apologized at the same time for the brownouts that hit the town during the summit.

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