This is due in no small part to the leadership and resolve of Secretary Afable as well as the atmosphere of trust he and his counterpart in the MILF panel has generated after years of talking with each other. Thus, now that the Exploratory Talks are at a crucial stage, his removal could not have come at a worst time.
Madame President, we are also deeply disturbed by persistent reports of opposition to Secretary Afable’s handling of the peace process allegedly from influential members within your cabinet and vested interest groups. Thus, his removal sends the wrong message and casts doubt on the direction your administration intends to take the peace process.
We note that during Afable’s tenure: 1. the ceasefire had been holding and outbreaks of all-out-wars like those in 2000 and 2003 were avoided; 2. civil society was effectively engaged as active and neutral participants in upholding the ceasefire; 3. previously insurmountable issues in the exploratory talks were overcome; 4. cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces has immensely contributed to the campaign against extremists; 5. more and more members of the international community have come to lend their support to the peace process. These are remarkable achievements of your own peace panel who have resolutely concretized your mandate on the primacy of the peace process.
Madame President, we the peoples of Mindanao and those who have the most at stake therefore strongly urge you to protect the gains of the GRP-MILF peace process by recalling your acceptance of Secretary Afable’s courtesy resignation and to reinstate him with full political backing and mandate which must be made clear to all members of your administration.
As always, you can count on our support as your administration strives a lasting legacy to the peoples of Mindanao.
FR. ANGEL CALVO TIMUAY MELANIO ULAMA
Lead Convenor Chairman
Mindanao Peaceweavers/PAZ Mindanao Peoples Caucus
GUS MICLAT ATTY. ZAINUDIN MALANG
Executive Director, IID Bangsamoro Center for Law & Policy
DATU MIGKETAY SAWAY
Secretary General, PANAGTAGBO-Mindanao