PEACETALK: We ask ourselves, which way now?

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[Opening statement and welcome speech of Guiamel Alim, Executive Director of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) at the Kaakbay Kapayapaan: Civil Society Peace and Solidarity Assembly in Cotabato City on 25 November 2019]

Greetings of Peace to All!

Thank God for arriving safely and hope He will keep us safe the rest of the time. Nice to see old faces (as young once upon a time) and new ones (as those who will also grow old)

Sixteen years ago, seven networks organized the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW). It took us sometime to find appropriate name for the group. Since we came from different religious and cultural groups, different sectors, different organization with different concerns, we realized that we were a tapestry or interwoven groups with common interest for peace, thus MPW.

Some of the people who joined us in the launching of the MPW have already returned to their Lord. Those who are alive today are already dyeing. Some are dyeing black…brown…others are going back to childhood still growing their hair. Others decided to retire for good. But the good news is that many are still very active.

The issues then that prompted us to come together included:

  1. Peace and security: The hostilities and violence created by war.
    2. Displacement of communities
    3. Structural violence and poverty

In response, MPW envisions to promote unity, information-sharing and coordination among peace advocates in the areas of humanitarian protection, peace and human rights advocacy, peace talks and ceasefire monitoring, and peace building.

Today, we are facing essentially the same issues but under a new political landscape

1. There is a signed peace agreement between the MILF and GPH – the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)
2. The stalled peace talks between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and GPH (Government of the Philippines) in IP areas
3. Martial Law
4. Era of extremism
5. Displacement
6. Poor social cohesion
7. Structural injustices

To face these challenges, networks are growing in number, in many cases membership are overlapping or areas of concerns on top of each other or geographical operation crosscutting each other.

As we attempt to strengthen our MPW, we need to consider all these emerging developments.

  1. After 16 years, we can ask ourselves, what have we contributed to achieve our goal;
    2. What are our strengths and what had been the best practices that we can continue;
    3. We ask ourselves, which way now? Convergence, collaboration, identifying our niche, or finding where we can be of relevant and effective- where we are good at;
    4. What do we want to achieve in the coming years
    5. What should the nature of MPW be to achieve that goal?
    6. Identify power-interest groups that we can work with.

I fully trust that MPW is a powerful force that can contribute to the goal of peace.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her thoughts on peace in Mindanao. Guiamel Alim is Executive Director of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society whose main office is in Cotabato City)

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