Peace rallies in Mindanao start Monday

The first rally will take place here on Monday with some 50,000 participants from the provinces of Shariff Kabunsuan, North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, a network of 168 non-government and people’s organizations, will lead the rally.

The peace rally will carry the theme “Uphold the gains of the Peace Processes,” said Abdulbasit Benito, media committee chair of the consortium.

Another rally will be held on Jan. 10 in General Santos City with participants coming from Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, South Cotabato and Koronadal City.

Groups in Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Pagadian City, Ipil City and Dipolog City have confirmed they will hold similar activities on Feb. 7.

Talks between the GRP and the MILF hit a snag last December 15, 2007 when the MILF negotiating panel refused to meet its GRP counterpart because the government draft of a proposed memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain did not contain much of the consensus points earlier agreed by the two parties, he said.

The GRP also inserted a provision which states that the implementation of the agreement will have to follow constitutional process.

Benito said the GRP showed it was not determined to achieve a peace accord with the MILF when it ignored the consensus points.

“The current status of the peace process in Mindanao is fast changing and reshaping the future of the Mindanawons especially the civil society that comprises the greater majority in the grassroots. The expected signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the MILF and GRP in Kuala Lumpur on the issue of ancestral domain could have been a recompense for the 10-year long negotiation between the MILF and the GRP that commenced in July of 1997,” he said.

Aside from the impasse in the GRP-MILF talks, Benito also noted the issues confronting the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the GRP which has further made the situation in Mindanao “fluid and volatile.”

“We, in the civil society are aware of the fact that majority of people in the grassroots desire for a meaningful result of the peace process, not only to put an end to the ravages of war, but to address the longstanding political problem in a non-violent way,” he said.

“Prerequisite to our yearning for human security, peace and economic progress is the attainment of a negotiated political settlement,” he added.
He urged the government and the MILF to refrain from taking actions that might further jeopardize the peace talks. (Norodin M. Makalay/MindaNews contributor)