We clearly understand the reasons behind Malaysia’s decision and it is but logical to hold the Philippine government accountable for not exerting extra effort in ensuring the success of the diplomatic commitment of the Malaysian government’s support to the Mindanao peace process. The Philippine government – as the government entity in this negotiation- must have the ascendancy in this process and thus should take the primary responsibility in forwarding the peace process even if it means to boldly address and approach the negotiations “out of the box” or even at the edge of any constitutional barnacle. It must then be ready to take on the chin whatever criticisms groups or individuals may sincerely dish out. We should anyway all be constructive partners in this lofty quest for peace.
MPW is thus concerned over the Philippine government’s cavalier reaction to Malaysia’s decision casting aspersions on groups blaming the slow pace of the process to the IMT pullout instead of seeking ways to convince them to reconsider and reiterate its avowed commitment to peace.
We meantime also appeal to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to likewise reaffirm this same vow.
We do not need to reiterate how Malaysia’s leading role in the IMT has significantly paved the way for a relatively peaceful environment in the conflict areas, clearly a demonstration of Malaysia’s commitment to ensuring Mindanao’s and consequently the region’s stability. We are not alarmists but we are very much concerned that the planned withdrawal of the IMT will also provide the space and condition for other troublemakers and spoilers in the island and the region to take advantage of this gap and advance their dark agenda. It is in this regard that we likewise call on both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces to publicly state that they will continue to adhere to the primacy of the peace process and not start any war if we cannot prevent the IMT pullout. We urge them to ensure that this call reaches and are understood by all their ground commanders and soldiers. This categorical call will help assuage and douse any anxiety on the ground. Anxieties can be a harbinger of hostilities.
Even then, we urge Malaysia to pursue its noble mission here and hope this will be fulfilled with greater support from the Philippine government, the Moro rebel forces and civil society in general.
Once more, we loudly call on the government of Malaysia to reconsider its decision in the light of its very positive contribution to the peace process in Mindanao in the past and its valuable continuing presence at present and immediate future.
We beg you to stay.
MPW Lead Secretariat (contact: Memen Lauzon-Gatmaytan)