Peace Rally Kicks Off In Mindanao

January 4, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 04, 2008) — Some 50,000 people are expected to join the first leg of a series of Mindanao-wide peace rally which will begin here Monday.

Many of those who will participate in the rally are sectoral representatives from the nearby provinces of Shariff Kabunsuan, North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
The rally will be held in response to the “fast changing” peace process in Mindanao that is “reshaping the future of the Mindanawons, especially the civil society that comprise the greater majority in the grassroots,” said Abdulbasit Benito, chair of media committee of the organizer, in an apparent reference to the aborted talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine peace panels which were supposed to have taken place in Kuala Lumpur on December 15-17, 2007.
The rally will be spearheaded by the Cotabato-based regional management committee of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, a network of Moro non-government and peoples organizations with 168 member-organizations Mindanao-wide.
It will start at 9 a.m. from “strategic points” in the city and the three provinces and will end at 3 p.m. at the city plaza. A press conference will be held simultaneously at Hotel Castro Function Hall at 12 p.m.
“The current status of the peace process in Mindanao is fast changing and reshaping the future of the Mindanawons especially the civil society that comprise the greater majority in the grassroots. The expected signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the MILF and GRP in Kuala Lumpur on the issue of ancestral domain could have been a recompense for the ten-year long negotiation between the MILF and the GRP that commenced in July of 1997,” Benito said in a statement.
“But the stance of the GRP in nonconforming to the agreed consensus points, a clear manifestation of the feebleness of the GRP to bestow strong political will for the realization of the peace accord,” he said.
Benito said the peace rally will carry the theme “Uphold the gains of the Peace Processes,” adding that “the initiative came out as a unified response to draw the attention of the ‘gate keepers’ of the peace processes.”
Benito asserted that the “contentious issue” on the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between the MNLF and the GRP “is viewed to impinge the peace process between the MILF and GRP to pursue.”
He argued that eleven years after the signing of the FPA, “gaps” between positions of the GRP and MNLF on the “genuine implementation” of the FPA widens. “These incidents inevitably make the peace situation fluid, volatile and according to some, can explode anytime.”
“We, in the civil society is aware of the fact that majority of people in the grassroots desire for a meaningful result of the peace process, not only to put an end to the ravages of war, but to address the longstanding political problem in a non-violent way,” Benito said.
Benito pointed out that the civil society’s unified response “can create a desired impact by significantly reducing the possible incidence of conflict exacerbation brought about by the fragile peace confronting our homeland.”
“Prerequisite to our yearning for human security, peace and economic progress is the attainment of a negotiated political settlement,” Benito said.
“The action points generally aims to draw the attention of these ‘gate keepers’ to immediately take necessary actions and muster enough courage to bring about the long awaited peaceful settlement.”
Benito said the “civil society in Mindanao urgently appeal” for “swift and more carefully review the implementation of the GRP-MNLF 1996 peace accord so that gaps are identified, corrective measures are installed, and implementation scheme put into place;” “for the immediate resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks and for the Government to honor its commitment to the consensus points;” and “for the GRP and the MILF to refrain from any unnecessary actions that may jeopardize the peace talks.”
The second leg of the rally will be held on Jan. 10 in General Santos City and to be participated by sectoral representatives from the city and nearby provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, South Cotabato and Koronadal City.
The other legs of the rally is yet to be confirmed but on Feb. 7 the same rally will be held in Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Pagadian and Diplog cities and Ipil town. (Norodin Makalay)

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