Mindanao Women’s Peace Table launched

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 Nov) – The Mindanao Women’s Peace Table was launched here Monday to give the women a place to participate in the peace negotiation, they being the “force for change.”

In her message, GPH peace implementing panel chair Irene Santiago explained that the peace tables will provide a platform for women where they can participate and discuss further the on-going peace-building efforts in Mindanao between the government and the National Democratic Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and Moro National Liberation Front.

She said that women in Mindanao have long been actively participating in peace making.

“If your remember, in 2001 many of you founded the Mindanao Commission on Women with the aim of harnessing the collective energies and passion of women in Mindanao for good, for the much yearned peace, for respite from poverty and want, nothing short of fairness and acceptance of a better world not for an amorphous ‘all’ but for women, men, and children,” Santiago said.

A four-day training, which started with the launching of the peace table, is being participated by women coming form different tribes in the island to teach them the values-based approach to conducting public conversations.

She said that the training will enable different groups on the local level to organize conversations where people’s voices will be heard.

“These will be called People’s Peace Tables, the bigger table. The two negotiating tables of the Government and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) are only two tables. They are important ones but the bigger table is us and about us,” Santiago said.

Alma Evangelista, team leader of the Resilience and Peacebuilding Unit of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said that they are supporting peace dialogues such as the Women’s Peace Table.

“We support venues for platforms and dialogues that promote a resolution for conflict… We are at the critical point of the peace process. Ilang taon na ba na may conversation platforms, ngunit hindi makikita o naeexperience kaagad ang kapayapaan. There must be a role for everyone at this point in time to be able to achieve the goals of peace,” she said.

Evangelista added that role of women in peace making is vital, as she encouraged them to “express yourself in dialogue and conversation and make your voices herd.”

Former Isabela City councilor Nida Dans, who is also member of the board for Mothers for Peace, said that the “war is a soul shattering experience for the innocent people, especially the mother and the children who suffer the most.”

She said that the launching of a peace table provides a space to foster the values of public conversation for peace in the different communities.

“Let us keep this table up, and set this no matter how hard this gets sometimes. The more we sweat with peace, the less we bleed to war… Peace is the only battle worth waging for,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)