STATEMENT: President, keep the flames of hope burning in the search for peace

In a speech on Friday, May 5, before police officers in Parang, Maguindanao, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he was “at a loss” and felt “a bit pessimistic” about the prospects for peace with Moro rebels owing to their supposedly continued “squabbling.”
The President further said he was worried nothing can come out of the process which his administration expanded to include various Moro stakeholders, and tried to engage both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with a common Bangsamoro agenda consistent with each group’s peace pact with government.
Given the complex socio-political terrain his administration has to deal with, it is not surprising that quick results are hard to accomplish. We therefore sympathize with the President’s anxiety over the achievement of expected outcomes in the Bangsamoro peace process. We view this as an indication, among others, of his serious attention to the peace process, even to the extent of personally overseeing its twists and turns.
But let not this minor slack in the achievement of milestones be a cause for desperation. We know how hard the MILF and MNLF leaderships are working to race against time and meet the President’s self-imposed deadline of writing a draft Moro autonomy law featuring the ideals of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the 2017 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
We also know how hard they work to prepare and synchronize the Moro agenda in the process of shifting the country’s form of government from unitary to federal.
These efforts are by no means easy. But we ask the leaderships of both the MNLF and MILF to see how they can further step up the pace of their work, if only to ease these worries.
We call on the entire country to stand behind the government as it endeavor to achieve a negotiated political settlement with Maoist rebels and implement with earnest the Bangsamoro peace pacts.
Finally, we ask the President to keep the flames of hope burning in our untiring search for peace.
Balay Rehabilitation Center has been working in conflict affected Bangsamoro communities for almost two decades.