PALIMBANG, Sultan Kudarat (MindaNews/19 March) –About a thousand Moro people who gathered in a peaceful assembly at the public plaza here on March 18 urged the government to stop the war and honor the MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain), claiming this is the “fulfillment of the aspiration of the Bangsamoro and an ideal solution to end the conflict in Mindanao.”
The event, spearheaded by Moro civil society in this town, was in support of Mindanao Peace Power Day .
“We do not want war, we want peace,” Dimbang Mamadra, chair of the Palimbang Peoples Organization pointed out. “We appeal to the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to go back to the negotiating table and resume the peace talks,” he stressed. He added that resumption of peace process “should start where it ended: the signing of the MOA-AD.”
Parents of barangay Pananag in Maasim town, Sarangani, and their children join a rally on March 18 to coincide with similar mass actions in other areas in Mindanao, calling for peace and urging the government and the MILF to resume peace negotiations. Photo courtesy of Mel Rebollido
Participants brought rally paraphernalia bearing strong messages to the government: stop twar, resume peace talks; war is destructive to lives and property; food, not bombs; and honor the MOA -AD. Same placards were nailed on trees along the 20 kilometer-stretch of the highway from the adjacent province of Sarangani to the venue.
“In times of war, we farmers could not work in our farm,” he complained, “how we can produce foods” Abu Yasser Taya, a farmer leader asked. He stressed that the farmers are considered the backbone of the nation. “We farmers feed the people,” he pointed out, adding that war in Mindanao should be stopped and the peace process must continue.
Ibrahim Kapina, a youth leader, said war deters the Moro youth from continuing their studies. “Since I was a kid, we have witnessed war, when this will be stopped?” he asked.
Students of a madrasah in barangay Malisbong, a remote village in Palimbang town, Sultan Kudarat stage on a roadside their own mass action on Wednesday, urging the government and the MILF to resume peace negotiations. Photo corutesy of Mel Rebollido
“How can we study while war is ongoing? What will happen to our future?” Kapina asked.
He said the recycled program of the government for the Moro people to bring peace is ineffective and “does not bring peace.”
A women leader called the government to immediately halt the war, pointing out that “women and children are the most affected during war.” “The government must respect MOA-AD for that is what we (Moro) people need,” she stressed.
Jomie Unggas, an educator, asked the media to help relay to the Philippine government and the MILF peace panels to go back to the negotiating table. “War only brings destruction and death,” he pointed out. “The solution to conflict lies on the negotiating table,” he said.
Lawyer Datu Mabaning Samama, representing the non-government organizations of town, said the MOA AD “is an ideal solution to the Mindanao problem” and “government must implement it once and for all for this is the key to peace in Mindanao.”
Datu Pirot Maulana Mangigin from Barangay Pananag, Maasim, Sarangani Province, urged the government and the MILF to work for peace. “Let’s not listen to (North Cotabato Vice Governor) Piňol, they are only a few people,” he stressed.
The MOA-AD was initialed on July 27, 2008 in Malaysia by the government and MILF peace panels and was scheduled to be formally signed the following week, August 5, but afternoon of August 4, the Supreme Court granted the petition of the officials of North Cotabato, Zamboanga and Iligan for a temporary restraining order, stopping the government peace panel chair from signing the document.
The Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional on October 14. (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo/MindaNews contributor)