Peace groups, church leaders to meet on GPH-MILF talks

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 September) — Local and international peace organizations and church leaders are organizing a two-day conference that will attempt to help find means and ways to push the Mindanao peace process forward.

Dubbed the 2nd National Solidarity Conference on Mindanao (NSCM-2), the gathering at the Conference Hall of the Bishops Ulama Conference here on September 8-9 is an effort of religious and civil society groups to solicit and consolidate recommendations of major
stakeholders of peace on how to bridge the gap between the proposals of government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF).

With the theme “GPH-MILF Peace Talks: Finding the Common Ground,” the conference will attempt to address “the biggest challenge of the day,” which is “how to make these two positions meet.”

Bishop Ephraim Tendero, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches said they would try to “find the common ground in order to realize the hopes of the Filipino and the Bangsamoro peoples”.

He stressed that they could not leave the matter of finding peace solely “upon the shoulders of the government and the MILF peace panels, or President Aquino and Chairman Al Hajj Murad.”

Tendero, whose PCEC has been in the forefront of peace advocacy, said that the gap between the government and MILF proposals requires the participation of all sectors, organs of government and the international community.

Among the organizers of the conference are the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, International Alert, Mindanao Solidarity Network and the Mindanao Peoples Caucus.

Two of the eight discussants are prominent figures from the church, namely, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of the Archdiocese of Cotabato and Sister Maria Arnold Noel of the Manila-based Mindanao Solidarity Network.

Also invited to speak are Vicente Lao, president of the Mindanao Business Council; Earl Baguio, chair of the Federation of Student Governments (MSU System); Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, governor of North Cotabato; Datu Vic Saway, a leader of the Talaandig tribe in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon; Prof. Rabi Angcal, secretary-general of the Mindanao Alliance for Peace; and lawyer Naguid Sinarimbo, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Dean Marvic Leonen, government chief negotiator, and Maulana Alonto, senior member of the MILF peace panel, will present their respective proposals during the conference.

The first NSCM, held in March 2009, culminated with a peace caravan from this city that passed through Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, where evacuees showed up with placards calling for a stop to the war that broke up in August 2008. (Romy Elusfa/MindaNews Contributor)

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