Peace groups to offer Mindanao People Peace Agenda to GRP-MILF peace panels

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 June) — A convergence of peace advocates in Mindanao is set to offer a blueprint to the negotiating panels of both the government and the Moro rebels that will serve as a common peace platform.

The Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW), a network of non-government organizations, academe, religious, human rights groups, peoples organizations and grassroots communities, will launch on Friday the document that contains the 14-point agenda before representatives of the peace panels.

In a press conference at a hotel here, International Dialogue (IID) executive director Augusto Miclat Jr. said the MPW has formulated the Mindanao People Peace Agenda (MPPA) that aims to steer the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels to finally resolve the decades-old conflict in Mindanao. IID is a member of MPW.

Initiatives for International Dialogue executive director Agusto  Miclat, Jr. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco“We have conducted area consultations with leaders of Bangsamoro, Lumads, and settlers from all over Mindanao,” Miclat disclosed, adding that they discovered key issues that need to be addressed to build lasting peace in Mindanao.

Among the key points embodied in the MPPA, Miclat said, is the right of everyone to self-determination.

The right to self-determination, he pointed out, is even included in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Respecting this right is vital if we are to achieve the goal of peace,” Miclat stressed.

He added that the MPPA’s agenda is primarily “an affirmation of the right to self-determination of the peoples of Mindanao while calling on government to develop a cohesive national peace policy and pursue a negotiated peaceful settlement of the conflict.”

Other points included in the MPPA, which MPW envisions as a living document for solidarity, that needs to be discussed is the issue of corruption and impunity, and environmental protection.

The MPPA will be presented in a forum on Friday at a resort in this city. Expected participants include high-ranking government officials, experts in the field of peace negotiations, and members of indigenous groups, among others.

In a separate statement, Fr. Angel Calvo, of Peace Advocates of Zamboanga who is also MPW’s current lead convenor, said that the MPPA is a humble contribution from the grassroots civil society organizations in Mindanao, to the agenda of the government and the MILF peace panels.

“With this document, we hope to put the agenda of the people within the agenda of these players who, like us, have been searching for a peaceful solution to Mindanao,” Calvo, a Claretian priest who spent years in Basilan in the 1970s and 1980s, said.

Guiamel Alim, chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and one of the lead convenors of the network, said in a statement that the document does not intend to supplant or replace existing processes such as the peace talks between the government and the MILF but will in fact affirm these and try to identify gaps that may still surface. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)

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