Tag Archives: Peace

[Joint Statement] ASEAN urged to heed UN Sec-Gen call for ceasefire, ensure human rights amid COVID19

Southeast Asian states should heed the call for a global ceasefire, ensure conflict sensitivity and human rights in responding to COVID19 crisis

We the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals, strongly urge the Member-States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to heed the call of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres for immediate global ceasefire in active armed conflicts in all parts of the world, in order to focus on the fight against the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We likewise call on States to place human security and conflict sensitivity as core principles in their emergency responses, ensuring that measures are proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory aligned with international human rights law and standards and are sensitive to the disproportionate vulnerability to pandemics of conflict-affected communities, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), people with disabilities, women, children and elderly.

In Southeast Asia, active armed conflicts are ongoing in the Philippines especially in Mindanao, in West Papua in Indonesia, in the Southern provinces of Thailand, and in various ethnic states all over Burma/Myanmar. These armed conflicts have created millions of refugees and internally displaced peoples. According to the UNHCR, in 2017, there were 3.37 million “persons of concern” in Southeast Asia, of which approximately 1.46 million were refugees, 74,416 asylum seekers, 1.17 million stateless, and 665,051 internally displaced persons. Not only are health systems of war-torn communities inadequate, but the access to healthcare and other forms of social protection by the most marginalized groups in ongoing active armed conflicts is almost none.

The COVID19 pandemic will undeniably test the capacity for crisis mitigation and the response of governments, and will potentially ravage each and every society. We are concerned, however, of countries and communities where overt violence and political instability are present and where economic capacities and social capital are fragile, making them more vulnerable to the impact of the outbreak, and possibly exacerbating existing conflicts or giving rise to new ones.

This is a test of ASEAN leadership in the region, and a test of ASEAN integration beyond just economics and trade. Unsurprisingly, however, the ASEAN members have yet to respond to the crisis as a regional community. Many countries beyond the region have also taken a me-first strategy, as the UN itself struggles to rally a decisive, coordinated global response. States need to recognize that while border lockdowns may temporarily contain the pandemic, without supporting the capacities of more fragile countries and without coordinated action, we will not be able to beat the virus. Solidarity among peoples and nations is needed now more than ever.

The virus will not discriminate with regards to religion, race, ethnicity, political ideology and affiliation. This will hurt us all, but still, this will unevenly hurt the poor, the politically and economically marginalized and the communities that are already devastated by violence — the same people in whose name many of the state security actors and non-state armed groups claim to fight for.

It is in light of these that we argue that a global ceasefire is not only a prudent step but a moral imperative.

All efforts must be expedited to contain the pandemic and find durable solutions to this common problem. Ceasefires will allow humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable communities and can open corridors for dialogue and coordination for emergency response, without the risk of being derailed due to any unnecessary armed confrontation. Resources must be directed preventing further damage to those who have already lost so much through armed conflict.

In line with this aim, States must ensure that human security and social justice are at the heart of their response and that emergency powers are not abused for narrow political gains, otherwise such will only exacerbate the inequalities, insecurity, and distrust that underpin these armed conflicts.

Thus, we call on States to take the following steps without delay:

1) Declare immediate unilateral ceasefires in order to establish humanitarian corridors and delivery of aid, particularly health education and services, to affected communities. This can serve as a starting point to negotiate and forge reciprocal ceasefire agreements and ceasefire monitoring mechanisms with armed groups;

2) Allocate adequate resources to ensure non-discrimination, transparency, and respect for human dignity in the delivery of health services and humanitarian aid, regardless of citizenship, race, religion, political affiliation, gender, and economic status. Utmost attention must be provided in addressing the particular needs of the most vulnerable and conflict-affected communities, such as indigenous peoples, refugees, stateless, asylum seekers, IDPs, such as their access to clean water and sanitation, to protective and hygiene equipment like face masks, and to immediate testing, quality medical care, and social protection. The special needs and disproportionate risks for displaced women must be addressed;

3) Ensure that the crisis response, including implementing state services and security forces, abides by the existing standards and principles of international human rights law. Declarations of state of emergencies, community-quarantines, lockdowns, and restriction of freedom of movement must not come at the expense of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. Internet shutdowns that are in place in conflict-affected areas must be lifted, and context-specific information dissemination must be put in place in order to ensure every person is informed on the status of the pandemic and the government response. Emergency powers enacted into law must have clear limitations and have oversight and grievance mechanisms;

4) Take steps to ensure support for and the safety of people involved in crisis response, especially healthcare workers in the frontlines, such as by providing them adequate protective gears and equipment and psychosocial support; and,

5) Divert resources from arms and military spending to healthcare, social services, and peacebuilding.

We further call on the ASEAN to initiate and facilitate the space for mutual support and strategic coordination among member-states, especially in ensuring the wellbeing and rights of conflict-affected communities, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless, internally displaced persons. This is the moment for ASEAN and its member states to act as a “people-centered, people-oriented,” caring and sharing community.

Endorsed by:

Organisations
1. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)-Southeast Asia

2. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), the Philippines

3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), Cambodia

4. ALTSEAN-Burma

5. AMAN-Indonesia

6. Asia Pacific Partnership for Atrocity Prevention (APPAP)

7. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus

8. ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF)

9. Asia Democracy Network (ADN)

10. Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APR2P), Australia

11. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

12. Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN)

13. Cambodian Civil Society Partnership, Cambodia

14. Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS), Cambodia/Asia

15. Center for Peace Education (CPE)-Miriam College, the Philippines

16. Center for Social Integrity – CSI, Myanmar/Burma

17. Child Rights Coalition (CRC) Asia

18. Focus on the Global South

19. Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI), the Philippines

20. Ichsan Malik Center for Peace and Dialogue, Indonesia

21. In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), the Philippines

22. Institutu ba Estudu Dame Konflitu e Sosial (KSI), Timor-Leste

23. KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence), Indonesia

24. Lumah Ma Dilaut, the Philippines

25. MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), Malaysia

26. Pax Christi Institute, the Philippines

27. Pax Christi Pilipinas, the Philippines

28. Penang Peace Learning Centre (PPLC), Malaysia

29. Peace Building Club Malaysia

30. Peace Women Partners Philippines

31. Peoples Empowerment Foundation, Thailand

32. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), the Philippines

33. Progressive Voice, Burma/Myanmar

34. Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia

35. Radio Rakambia, Timor-Leste

36. Research and Education for Peace, Universiti Sains Malaysia (REPUSM), Malaysia

37. Southeast Asia Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN)

38. Southeast Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Network (SEAHRN)

39. Stop the War Coalition, Philippines

40. Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Research/Education in Asean/Southeast Asia Programme (SHAPE-SEA) Governing Board

41. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia

42. Sulu Current Research Institute – Sharif Ul Hashim Inc., Sulu Archipelago, the Philippines

43. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

44. Terres de Hommes-Germany in Southeast Asia

45. Working Group for Peace (WGP), Cambodia

46. Youth Education for Development and Peace (YEDP), Cambodia

47. 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Organization (Kyun Su) ၈၈ မ ျိုး ဆက်င မ်ျိုး ခ မ်ျိုးရ ျိုးန ှ ပ့်် ွ လ့်် ျိုး်လ အ့် ဖွ ွဲ့အစည်ျိုး(ကျွန်ျိုးစု), Myanmar/Burma

48. 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Organization ( Myeik ) ၈၈ မ ျိုးဆက်င မ ်ျိုးခ မ်ျိုးရ ျိုးန ှ ့််ပွ လ့်် ျိုး်လ အ့် ဖွ ွဲ့အစည်ျိုး (ငမ တ်), Myanmar/Burma

49. 8888 New Generation (Mohnyin), Myanmar/Burma

50. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA- Mandalay Division, Myanmar/Burma

51. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Ayarwaddy Division, Myanmar/Burma

52. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Bago Division, Myanmar/Burma

53. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Magway Division, Myanmar/Burma

54. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Sagaing Division, Myanmar/Burma

55. AGFA Action Group for Farmers’ Affair (Bago), Myanmar/Burma

56. Ahlin Tagar Rural Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

57. AhLin Thitsa Development Committee, Myanmar/Burma

58. Ahnaga Alinn Development Committee, Myanmar/Burma

59. Ahr Thit Yaung Chi (Hline Bwe ) အောျိုးသစ်ရ ော ်ခခည်(လ ်ျိုးဘွ ွဲ့ ငမ ွဲ့နယ်), Myanmar/Burma

60. Airavati Foundation, Myanmar/Burma

61. Alin Thitsar Development Committee အလ ်ျိုးသစစောဖွ ွဲ့ ငဖ ျိုးရ ျိုးရကော်မတီ, Myanmar/Burma

62. Alinsaetamarn Library & Resource Center, Myanmar/Burma

63. All Arakan Civil Society Organizations Partnership (AACSOP), Myanmar/Burma

64. All Kachin Youth Union, Myanmar/Burma

65. Ann Township Pipeline Watch Movement Organization အမ်ျိုးငမ ွဲ့နယ်ပ ုက်လ ု ်ျိုးရ ျိုး ောရစော က့််ကည့််လ ပ်ရှောျိုးရ ျိုး အဖွ ွဲ့, Myanmar/Burma

66. Arakan Civil Society Forum for Peace Network(ACSFPN), Myanmar/Burma

67. Arakan Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association(AHRDPA), Myanmar/Burma

68. Arakan National Congress ( Laytaung )- ခ ု ်အမ ျိုးသောျိုးကွန် က်(ရလျိုးရတော ်), Myanmar/Burma

69. Arakan National Network(ANN), Myanmar/Burma

70. Arakan Peasant Union – APU, Myanmar/Burma

71. Arakan Social Network ( ခ ု ်လ မ ကွန် က်(ရခမပ ု), Myanmar/Burma

72. Arakan Women Union ( ခ ု ်အမ ျိုးသမီျိုး သမဂ္ဂ), Myanmar/Burma

73. Arakan Youth New Generation ( ခ ု ်လ ယ်မ ျိုးဆက်သစ်), Myanmar/Burma

74. Arr Marn Thit Social Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

75. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization, Myanmar/Burma

76. Ayeyar Farmer Union, Myanmar/Burma

77. AYN Ayeyawady Youth Network, Myanmar/Burma

78. Ayyar Pyo May Women Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

79. Badeidha Moe CIvil Society Organization, Myanmar/Burma

80. Bago Women Development Group, Myanmar/Burma

81. Banmaw Youth Network, Myanmar/Burma

82. Bee House, Myanmar/Burma

83. Belinn CSO Network ဘီျိုးလ ်ျိုး CSO ကွန်ယက်, Myanmar/Burma

84. Butheetaung Youth Congress (ဘ ျိုးသီျိုးရတော ်လ ယ်ကွန် က်), Myanmar/Burma

85. Candle Light Youth Group, Myanmar/Burma

86. Cang Bong youth, Myanmar/Burma

87. Central Chin Youth Organization, Myanmar/Burma

88. Child Care Foundation (Myawaddy T.S), Myanmar/Burma

89. Child Prevention Network, Myanmar/Burma

90. Chin MATA working group, Myanmar/Burma

91. Chin youth Organization, Matupi, Myanmar/Burma

92. Chinland Natural Resource Watch Group, Myanmar/Burma

93. Citizen’s Action For Transparency (CAfT), Myanmar/Burma

94. Civil Call (Sagaing Region), Myanmar/Burma

95. Community Association Develovment, Myanmar/Burma

96. Community Response Group, Myanmar/Burma

97. Constitution Network ( Hpa An ) အရခခခ ဥပရေကွန်ယက်(ဖောျိုးအ ငမ ွဲ့နယ်), Myanmar/Burma

98. Dama Ahlin Social Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

99. Dawei Development Association, Myanmar/Burma

100. Dawei Research Association, Myanmar/Burma

101. Dawei Watch Foundation, Myanmar/Burma

102. DEC Democratic Education Corner, Myanmar/Burma

103. Development Network Hinthada, Myanmar/Burma

104. Doe Myae Social Development Organization ( Tontay ), Myanmar/Burma

105. Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation EMReF, Myanmar/Burma

See more signatories JOINT-STATEMENT_ ASEAN urged to heed UN Sec-Gen call for global ceasefire, ensure human rights amid COVID19 FINAL (1)

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[Press Release] Resist Martial Law in Negros, Stop the Killings! Build Peace in Negros Now! -CTUHR

What’s in Negros Island that killings, violence and poverty keep on pounding the province and its people seems to have not known peace in their lives? Why is the State is using it as a laboratory or testing ground for something so dangerous that they seem desiring for the entire country?

The series of extrajudicial killings in Negros against the farmers, sugar workers, teachers which Defend Negros recorded to have reached 87 victims since Duterte got into power is seriously alarming. Amidst hunger and poverty, Negros remains to be one of the 20 poorest provinces in the country. Since Marcos Martial Law, Arroyo’s Oplan Makabayan to Duterte’s counter insurgency operation and Oplan Sauron, Negros figured prominently in the number of killings and horrible human rights violations. The killings of hapless victims are now being used to condition the people’s minds into declaring Martial Law.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) joins the voices of those who reject the militarist Duterte government’s plan to declare Martial Law in Negros, amidst the numerous onslaughts on peasants, farmworkers, human rights advocates and activists.

Martial Law will only increase the killings, as the primary suspects for most of these murders are state agents themselves. For instance, one of the victims, Felipe Dacal-Dacal, an active member of National Federation of Sugar Worker (NFSW) in Escalante, Negros Occidental, who was shot last June 8, 2019, was able to tell his relatives that his assailant was a Philippine Army intelligence officer.

Extrajudicial killings escalated when Duterte issued Memorandum 32 in November 2018, which ordered more deployment of military and police in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol region to suppress what they claim as lawless violence and acts of terror. Then on December 2018, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), implemented Oplan Sauron1 and Oplan Sauron2 last March 2019 – the government’s counter insurgency operation in the province.

The killings in Negros include two (2) massacres – the Sagay Massacre wherein nine (9) sugarcane farmworkers were killed and the Canlaon Massacre where 14 farmers were murdered. One of the most recent and the youngest victim is a one-year old baby who was killed alongside his father in Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Negros has had a long and bloody history of people’s struggle for land, higher wages for workers, against hunger and justice. For many decades, landlords with their vast haciendas rule over the island and worsen the oppression of peasants and farmworkers. The people, on the other hand, find means to fight back. They organize themselves into unions and people’s organizations, cultivate idle lands that Certificate of Land Ownership (CLOA) issued to them by the government to feed themselves and stand up for their rights.

A declaration of Martial Law in Negros will worsen the situation in the island for the alleged perpetrators will be given more power. They will sow more fear and trample on human rights of the people especially those who are actively standing up for their land and rights.

We join all peace-loving Filipinos in opposing and resisting this plan of declaring Martial rule in Negros. We urge the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the international community, especially the United Nations Human Rights Council to look into this matter and pressure the Duterte government to halt the plan to impose martial law, stop the killings, hold the real perpetrators to account and give peace a chance in Negros!

Defend Negros!
Stop the Killings!
Justice for All the Victims!
Peace in Negros Now!

MEDIA RELEASE
07 August 2019
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0916 248 4876 / 718 00 26

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[Statement] Together, let us condemn in the strongest term this cowardly act to sow terror and divide the tri-people of Mindanao -MPPM

A statement on the Cotabato City IED explosion from MPPM

“As the year 2018 ends, Mindanao is again shaken by the recent IED explosion that killed two and injured more than 30 individuals in the busy Southseas mall in Cotabato City on 31st of December 2018. Together, let us condemn in the strongest term this cowardly act of those who want to sow terror and divide the tri-people of Mindanao.

Let us join the whole public in the clamor for justice and for the arrest of those responsible with utmost observance to democratic processes. Let us not allow that our political, religious and cultural differences divide us in this moment as we are all victims of the situation.

The incident do not only aim to sow terror but is aimed to divide us all again and instill fear. They will only succeed if we let hatred prevail upon us.

Let us all stand in solidarity with the victims and demand for a thorough and impartial investigation.

We are entering into another page of Mindanao and Philippine history. The passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law as an instrument for the expression of the Right to Self Determination of the Bangsamoro that will be ratified through plebiscites this coming January 21 and February 6, 2019 and will replace the Republic Act 9054 or the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

May the Cotabato City incident not be instrumentalized to jeopardize the upcoming plebiscites and the democratic discourses towards it. Let us all have an open, fair and democratic debate to help in making decisions more informed.

Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement strongly believes and supports Right to Self-Determination aspirations of peoples, and hopes that these aspirations do not further marginalize other peoples and vulnerable groups. This RSD must centrally and substatially put the interests of the communities and its people at the top.

Let us continue to journey 2019 and beyond building communities of justpeace. Let us continue to work for the grassroots, the marginalized and the oppressed peoples, class and sectors.”

MPPM
January 3, 2019

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[Press Release] Balay urged parties in conflict to ensure protection of civilians in the on-going military- BIFF clashes

Balay urged parties in conflict to ensure protection of civilians in the on-going military- BIFF clashes

Balay has called on concerned local government units and the military authorities to uphold humanitarian protection and to take steps to ensure civilian safety and welfare following the reported deaths of a pregnant woman and a 14-year old boy at the height of mortar shelling operations initiated by the armed forces against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the areas around the Liguasan Marsh in North Cotabato and Maguindanao. since June 10.

Josephine Lascano, Balay executive director, also asked mandated organizations committed to human rights to hold a non-partisan investigation on the reported deaths of civilians in the conflict-affected localities. At the same time, she reminded rebel fighters to refrain from taking actions that would put the lives of civilians and non-combatants in danger and violate the humanitarian principles governing parties in armed conflict situation.

Lascano also called on authorities to verify reports from its local monitoring partners saying that soldiers and public officials are asking the evacuees to return to their place of origin despite the ongoing aerial bombings in nearby areas. She appealed to the armed forces and local government officials to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in handling the situation of the internally displaced persons.

The clashes between soldiers and the BIFF have resulted to the displacement of more than 3,000 families from the villages of Dalgan, Buliok and Kalbugan in the municipality of Pagalungan. Many of the evacuees have sought refuge in the old market and an elementary school in the town center and later moved to the neighboring municipality of Montawal.

“Authorities should ensure the security of civilians caught in the middle of conflict by implementing the IHL and conform to international standards. Civilians should be spared from the on-going operation especially the elders, women and children. Armed groups and security forces should be held accountable if they commit any human rights abuses,” Lascano said.

She urged the government to work for the passage of the Internal Displacement Act and the Bangsamoro Basic Law as essential measures to attain durable solutions to the recurrent issue of internal displacement in security-challenged areas in Mindanao.

“Internal displacement in the Philippines is most pervasive in areas where militarization and clashes between government forces and rebel fighters take place. Most affected are women and children who are constantly living under threat and vulnerable to harassment and gender-based violence. To protect the rights of the IDPs is to protect our own human rights and live without fear,” Lascano ended.

https://balayph.net/news-events/features-and-articles/184-press-release-balay-urged-parties-in-conflict-to-ensure-protection-of-civilians-in-the-on-going-military-biff-clashes

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[Statement] Peace in Mindanao within our grasp with BBL -Balay

Peace in Mindanao within our grasp with BBL

Balay Rehabilitation Center expressed its hopes for processes of healing, peace and justice in Mindanao at it joins Moro, indigenous peoples and settlers of Mindanao in monitoring Congress deliberations for the targeted passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress this week.

“Peace has been elusive but it is now in our grasp. Balay has worked to provide psychosocial support for those who have suffered the most from armed conflict in Mindanao—children affected by conflict, internally displaced persons, among others – and for their sake and the sake of all communities in the affected areas, we pray that the Bangsamoro Basic Law being discussed in Congress will reflect the spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that articulates the imperative to address historical injustices to pave the way to genuine peace,” says Josephine Lascano, Balay executive director.

“This is not a Mindanao issue. Peace in Mindanao will benefit Philippine society as a whole and pave the way for the realization of our common aspirations for peace and development,” Lascano added.

Lascano urged legislators to support the salient features of the BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transitional Commission (BTC) as it underwent substantial public consultations and has the support of various communities.

Among the features of the BTC-BBL are the following provisions:

– The creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that government and the MILF signed in March 2014 after years of peace negotiations;

– A basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people;

– Democratic processes that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance;

-A Bangsamoro government less dependent on the central government in revenue generation and control over the use and disposition of the natural resources;

-Assurance of the participation of Non-Moro Indigenous People and Christian Settler communities for the protection of their rights and welfare, including providing for their reserved seats in the Bangsamoro Parliament; and

– Ensure women, youth, traditional leaders and other sectors’ right to participation in governance in the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) and in the regular Bangsamoro Government;

-Creation of a Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission.

The BBL is the legal expression of the political agreement, the CAB, that government and the MILF signed on March 27, 2014, to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the (ARMM).

The establishment of the Bangsamoro shall undergo a process of ratification wherein residents of the core territories and neighbouring areas shall be asked if they will join the new political entity.

There are five versions of the BBL pending in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Authenticated by Rebecca Lozada
Balay Advocacy Officer (0917-5362638)

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[Press Release] To have IP rights in the BBL means inclusive peace, say Lumads -Loyukan

To have IP rights in the BBL means inclusive peace, say Lumads

Photo from Loyukan FB page

“To include non-Moro indigenous peoples rights in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) means inclusive peace, and a more lasting one,” says Titay Bleyen Santos Unsad, a Teduray leader from Upi, Maguindanao.

“Peace in Mindanao is a common aspiration of the Moro people and the non-Moro IPs. We have supported the struggle of our Muslim brothers and sisters for peace and development within our region. Their peace, is our peace. And that is why the BBL, to be truly a peace instrument, should also recognize the rights of the Teduray, Lambangian and other non-Moro indigenous peoples in Maguindanao,” adds Titay Bleyen Santos.

Titay Bleyen Santos Unsad is one of the 350 IP leaders who have been part of the Mindanao IP Legislative Assembly or MIPLA, which was convened by the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP) last year. The MIPLA was mandated to draft specific proposed revisions to the BBL which would contain the IP agenda. The Assembly worked for 3 months, and came up with proposed revisions.

“We drafted proposed revisions to enhance the BBL, recognizing our rights to our ancestral domains, and our distinct identity as non-Moro IP rights. These were presented to the Congress,” according to Titay Bleyen Santos. “But now, all of these seem to be set aside in favor of the version from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which prescribes that all peoples within the proposed Bangsamoro territory are all Bangsamoro. But we are not. We are Teduray, with our own ancestral domain, justice system, and governance. We are non-Moro indigenous peoples.”

The Congress plans to pass the proposed BBL before it adjourns on June 1, upon the urging of President Rodrigo Duterte. At the House of Representatives, the House Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity approved House Bill No. 6475 or the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without amendments last week. This did not sit well among some members of the House, who said that all the consultations and public hearings were rendered useless, as no revisions were entertained. The HB 6475 is the version submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The same can be said with the Senate, when Senator Miguel Zubiri decided to author instead the BTC version. The interpellation of SB 1717, or the proposed BBL, is ongoing at the Senate.

“It’s true, that the BBL is long overdue. We have been part of the struggle, too. We have been attending congressional hearings, dialogues, public forums, to express our support to BBL, but also to say that an inclusive BBL is the only way to go to have an inclusive peace,” says Fintailan Leonora Mokudef. Fintailan is a title for a Teduray woman leader. “Indigenous Peoples in ARMM did not enjoy the rights provided by the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA). Recognition of our rights is also long overdue.”

The government of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) did not recognize IPRA, a national law, as applicable within its territory. Its applicability over the Bangsamoro Territory is one of the critical revisions that the IP leaders are pushing for. The IP leaders went to the Senate today to have dialogues with the Senators and to observe the plenary discussions of SB 1717, or the Senate version of the proposed BBL.

“The halls of the Senate are familiar now to us. We have been here before, during the Aquino administration lobbying for the inclusion of IP agenda in the BBL. We have allies then who seem to have changed their position,” observes Titay Bleyen Leticio Datuwata, a Lambangian leader, from South Upi, Maguindanao. “We just hope that there will still be a number of members of the Senate who believes in the pursuit of peace, and that peace should be for everyone – even us, non-Moro Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.”

Titay Bleyen Santos, Fintailan Leonora and Titay Bleyen Leticio are all part of LOYUKAN, a common term among Central Mindanao Lumad to mean comrades. It is a coalition of IP leaders, Indigenous Political Structures, IP rights advocates, human rights organizations, and other members of the social movement who are all pushing for the full inclusion of the IP rights within the BBL.

For more information:
Mabel Carumba — 09998721405 / tubong.mindanao@gmail.com
Judy a. Pasimio — 09175268341 / judy@lilak.net

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[Press Release] Soldiers crackdown on trade unionists, Labour rights organization CTUHR decries extrajudicial killings, arrest and forcing them to surrender as NPA supporters

Soldiers crackdown on trade unionists, Labour rights organization CTUHR decries extrajudicial killings, arrest and forcing them to surrender as NPA supporters

As the Philippines commemorates the 32 years of EDSA People Power that deposed the Marcos dictatorship, labour rights organization Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) decries what it considers the return of tyrannical rule. It underscores the ongoing crackdown on people and people’s organizations critical of Duterte administration’s policies and programs inimical to democratic exercise of people’s legitimate rights to freedom of association, of assembly, of speech of and of rights to defend their own rights.

CTUHR cited the politically motivated killing of Roland Manlanat’s, 30, and a union organizer of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Sagay, Negros Occidental last February 22. NFSW said that Manlanat had been active in organizing and assisting the sugar workers in the surrounding areas and had been receiving threats for participating in the land cultivation campaign in Barangay Luna, where the hacienda workers and farmers called for the implementation of agrarian reform. Manlanat was also the union member killed in Sagay since NFSW city chapter chair Flora Gemola was stabbed dead last December.

On the same day, 39-year-old Marklen Maojo Maga was nabbed by eight (8) plainclothes state forces while playing basketball with his neighbors in San Mateo, Rizal. He was handcuffed and told to board a van and blindfolded and the men took him without telling why he was being arrested.

His wife only learned about the arrest when alerted by the witnesses and neighbours after several hours. There is no standing warrant against Maga but at the Police Camp, he was charged with murder that happened in Agusan del Sur, Mindanao. His arrest came almost a month after his father in law, Rafael Baylosis, a labor advocate and consultant of the National Democratic Front during the peace negotiation with the government. Maga is a fulltime Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) organizer in port area, in Cengral Luzon and has assisted PISTON transport workers that launched a successful two-day strike last year. The government has cancelled the peace talk and ordered all consultants to get arrested.

In Compostela Valley, workers and trade unionists seem to have nowhere to go after elements from Bravo Company 66th IB Philippine Army 1st Lt Jose Enrico D Noas based in Compostela Valley (Mindanao) began conducting village meetings and hound trade unionists to present themselves to the Army detachment in Brgy. San Miguel, Compostela, Compostela Valley since January 22, 2018. Members of the trade unions from Sumitomo Fruits Co, Shin Sun Tropical Fruits and Freshmax banana plantations are specifically targeted by such military operations. The local unions of these plantations are all affiliated with Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)- a militant and progressive labour center.

Residents who are mostly working or dependent on banana plantations told a Fact Finding Team composed of Nonoy Librado Development Foundation (NDFI), CTUHR, KMU and other local volunteers that visited the area from Feb 17-19, that the military from Bravo company asked them to call out their relatives to surrender, clear their names or get killed as they possess a list of New People’s Army (NPA) supporters in the area. The 66th IBPA alleged that they got the list from members of the NPA during an encounter with the state troops.

However, Mr. Lito Catap, an elected village council member assailed the so-called list, when he saw his name and the name of a long-dead relative. He said that they, and his villagemates are now worried as they are not clear who else are included in the list and when they present themselves, they are called as surrenderees.

Interviewed workers narrated that at the house to house visits and meetings, organized by the military, the latter underscored that they are implementing the President (PDuterte) order to hunt the communist rebels as well as their front organizations and KMU is one of the identified fronts of communists. `As you are a member of KMU affiliated union, you are also considered as NPA supporters. And if you gave even a grain of salt or MSG to them (NPA), then you are an NPA sympathizer or supporter”, the military told them.

Welma, 50 years old and working in Packing Plant 250 of SUMIFRU, Compostela Valley told CTUHR that on January 22, 2018, around 1.30 in the afternoon, five (5) soldiers from the Bravo Company ng 66th IB of Phil. Army barged into her house. One of the soldiers she was able to identify, a certain Pfc Paulino asked her to go to their camp in San Miguel to surrender because they (the workers) have union. Another soldier, whom she was not able to identify asked her why she joined the union and Adora replied that they want to protect themselves and their job. The military told her that she has to come to the camp on January 23, a scheduled meeting to surrender. Then the soldier left the house.

Adora did not report to the camp the following day. She knows that she did nothing wrong, she is not an NPA and nothing to be fearful about being in the workers’ union. She and her family worry about their safety and do not want to leave her community where their livelihood is.

Several other union members from Shin Sun Tropical Fruits and Freshmax plantations testified the same. Melfer, 32 years old, narrated that on January 28, his brother in law and himself, on order of the village chief Harry Cabiling, reported to the Bravo company of the 66th IB PA in San Miguel, Compostela, Compostela Valley to surrender and clear his name. A soldier on civilian clothes who did not say his name asked him why did he join the union and what is the money that they are collecting for, is that for the NPA? Melfer responded that the money is for the union and for the ongoing union strike. He also saw the list of names that the soldiers want them to surrender. The soldier pressed him about the activities he joined which he admitted to having participated in the march and workers’ camp-out in Manila last year, and then asked for the whereabouts of Arman Blasé. Blasé is a NAFLU-KMU fulltime union organizer. Marvin said, he does not know where Blasé is. The soldiers coaxed him that it is really better to surrender, to clear his name and asked him to sign a logbook. He was not sure of what kind of logbook was that but believed he is now listed as rebel surenderees.

It can be recalled that on June 2, 2017, more than a week after Martial Law was declared in Mindanao, the military violently dispersed the striking Shin Sun Tropical Fruits workers protesting illegal dismissal, underpayment, violations of other labor standards and contractualization. At the dispersal the military was caught saying that `this is Martial Law and we don’t honor the Labor Code in local language’ when workers asserted that the military has no right to intervene in the labour dispute. At the dispersal, eight (8) men and women workers including a child were arrested. A Korean owner of Shin Sun Tropical Fruits ran away to escape from her legal obligations to the workers. The case is still pending at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

On February 19, the military went round the community again to ask all union members to surrender at the camp.

CTUHR cited that on September 28, 2017, Reneboy Magayano, 50, an agricultural worker and chairperson of Maragusan Workers Association was extrajudicially killed by suspected agents of 66th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) on his way to Maragusan Public Market in Compostela Valley to buy fish. Lando Moreno, 60, an oil palm worker, an agrarian reform beneficiary and an active union member before he retired, was also gunned down on November 29 in Rosario, Agusan del Sur. To date, 23 workers and trade unionists and organizers were killed under Duterte administration.

CTUHR decries these crackdown on trade unions and their members as wanton violations not only of their right to freedom of association, but their (workers and their families) right to both physically and mentally safe. The labour rights organization also urged President Duterte to withdraw and refrain from any pronoucement labelling organizations such as KMU critical of his policies as communist fronts as they instigate spiralling workers’ and human rights violations. “The statements are not simply maligning the trade unions and organizations, but they are indictment for members of these organizations to be harassed, threatened and even killed, CTUHR added.

The organization also called for an end to Martial Law in Mindanao. “It only brings back the darkest period of the nation’s history that many leaders and members of various democratic movements had given their lives, disappeared, arrested and detained that all peace and freedom loving people must resist”.

Media Release
25 February 2018
Reference: Roben Casalda, Documentation Program Officer
Telephone # 0998 5613036
Daisy Arago, Executive Director
Tel# 0916 248 4876

Follow CTUHR @
Website: ctuhr.org
Facebook: @ctuhrph

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[Statement] “A Better Future Awaits Those Who Seek Peace” -PEPP

“A Better Future Awaits Those Who Seek Peace”
On the Continuation of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)* joins all peace advocates in rejoicing over the news of the continuation of the formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), with the fourth round scheduled in April and the fifth of June 2017. The two parties have recently released a joint statement after their informal talks last 10-11 March 2017 in Utrecht, The Netherlands after threshing out outstanding issues in a principled manner with the Royal Norwegian Government as third party facilitator.

The PEPP has stated that negotiations should not be bogged down by accusations and counter-accusations and the Utrecht Joint Statement is a testament to the power of principled dialogue. We welcome the fact that all past agreements were reaffirmed including those forged in the last three formal rounds of talks between the two parties.

The GRP and the NDFP also agreed on forging an “interim bilateral ceasefire” after issues and concerns in relation to both parties’ unilateral ceasefires from the period of August 2016 to February 2017 have been resolved. We hope that the unilateral ceasefires by both parties that will be reinstated before the fourth round of talks will be observed. We also pray that the proverbial swords of war that were unsheathed resulting to casualties on both sides and also of civilians and non-combatants in the last few weeks after the talks broke down, will not be drawn once more. This comes also with our hope that a bilateral ceasefire will be agreed upon and faithfully observed including compliance to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The CARHRIHL and the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) are viable instruments to address accusations from both sides and can prevent breakdowns in the future.

We also applaud the reinstatement of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the assurance of the safety and participation of the NDFP Consultants in the talks as well as the move by the GRP to ensure the release of some of the political prisoners.

We look forward to more positive outcomes in the next rounds of talks especially in relation to the agenda on social and economic reforms in order to address the roots of the armed conflict.

Let us all pray and work for peace and guard against those who are aiming to spoil the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations for their own ends. There will be more bumps ahead towards the road to a just and enduring peace, but if we continue to be vigilant and see to it that the parties involved stay on course, a better “…future awaits those who seek peace” (Psalms 37:37).

Issued and signed on this 15th day of March 2017.

ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, S.J., D.D.
Co-chairperson, PEPP
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

REV. FR. REX RB REYES, JR.
Co-chairperson, PEPP
National Council of Churches in the Philippines

BISHOP NOEL A. PANTOJA
National Director
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches

THE MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S. INIGUE, JR., D.D.
Co-chairperson
Ecumenical Bishops Forum

SR. MARY JOHN D. MANANZAN, OSB
Office of the Women Gender Commission
Association of Major Religious Superior in the Philippines

*The PEPP is a platform for 5 church institutions/groups, namely, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF), in working for a just and enduring peace by supporting the peace process between the GRP-NDFP.

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[From the web] Philippine President Encourages War Crimes -HRW

Philippine President Encourages War Crimes
Duterte’s Call to ‘Flatten the Hills’ Threatens Civilian Life and Property
By Carlos H. Conde
Human Rights Watch

While attending a memorial service today for four policemen, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte urged the army to “Go ahead, flatten the hills.” In counterinsurgency operations, he said, “anything goes for now. If there’s collateral damage, pasensiya” – using a Tagalog word that can mean either “I’m sorry” or “Too bad.”

His rhetoric,  in response to the officers’ killing the previous day by Communist New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents in the southern Philippines, may cost many civilians their lives.

International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, rejects the “anything goes” approach to warfare and places specific restraints on all parties to an armed conflict to spare civilians and other non-combatants the horrors of war. Armies must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians.  Attacks against lawful targets cannot be indiscriminate or cause civilian loss greater than the expected military gain.  Were the Philippine military to “flatten the hills” without regard to civilian loss of life and property, those involved would be committing war crimes.

In its several decades of armed conflicts with the NPA and various Muslim insurgencies, the Philippine armed forces have committed numerous laws of war violations in which troops did not distinguish between rebel fighters and civilians. Many farmers and indigenous group members have been targets of attacks. In 2013, when fighting turned Mindanao’s Zamboanga City into a battlefield, Muslim rebels and army soldiers showed little regard for civilian protection, and dozens were killed. Past military offensives elsewhere in the south have been conducted in a manner that has displaced hundreds of thousands, many indigenous peoples.

Duterte’s counterinsurgency rhetoric is frighteningly reminiscent of his praise and encouragement for police killings of suspected drug users and drug dealers, which has instigated unlawful force and incited  violence. He should promptly make clear to the armed forces that counterinsurgency operations are constrained by law, and that those who violate them, from the lowliest private to the commander in chief, will be held to account.

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[From the web] Statement of Support of the World Association for Christian Communication – Asia Region to the Ongoing Peace Negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP

Statement of Support of the World Association for Christian Communication – Asia Region to the Ongoing Peace Negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building
up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
– Ephesians 4:29

We in the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) – Asia Region express our support and solidarity with the Filipino people as they walk the path to a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

We are happy to know about the progress in the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and we are strongly supportive of it.

Establishing the lines for communication for the sole purpose of achieving just peace is both inspiring and meaningful. It lays down the foundation to converse and find solutions together to problems and hindrances.

Communicating peace is the same as creating space for communication rights for we can only attain genuine peace when the rights, lives and dignity of people are ensured, protected and upheld. When people can communicate their thoughts without fear of discrimination or retribution, we are steps forward in building a society with genuine freedom, dignity and just peace.

The people of the Philippines have borne witness to many decades of and suffered greatly from poverty, austerity and conflict. Many marginalized peoples have been silenced yet many groups continue to express solidarity with them, building communication lines, creating space for them to speak freely. The ongoing peace talks will help in facilitating and improving these lines and spaces.

We in the WACC – Asia Region look forward to the positive progress of the peace talks between the GRP and NDFP in the Philippines. May the Filipino people truly benefit from the fruits of these negotiations.

For just peace in the Philippines, we remain in solidarity!

……………..

The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.

# # #

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.

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[Statement] Free ALL political prisoners coming from ALL rebel groups -TFDP

Free ALL political prisoners coming from ALL rebel groups

LONG HELD PPS websiteTask Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) welcomes the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). Since 1986, we have keenly watched the perilous journey towards peace between the two parties.

TFDP, like all other Filipinos, desires peace – a peace firmly anchored on the bedrock of justice. For too long so many of our kababayans have wallowed in abject poverty and exclusion. Thirty years of elite democracy has proven it cannot alleviate the problems of hunger, landlessness, joblessness, exclusion and discrimination.

The time to change was years ago. Now, we are given the opportunity once more to tread the path of change.

TFDP welcomes the release of political prisoners through amnesty. We welcome the immediate release of those who are sickly and those who are covered by the JASIG.

In the spirit of compassion and mercy and as an act of statesmanship, we request the two parties to consider these proposals.

We ask the two parties to consider the release of ALL political prisoners coming from ALL rebel groups as a major step towards peace and reconciliation. We are fully aware that a great number of the political prisoners come from the NDF bloc but we are aware too that a significant number come from our Moro brothers and sisters. There are also long-held political prisoners like Juanito Itaas, Gerry Butial,  and Basilides Badion who have languished in jail since the time of Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos. There are also those coming from other rebel groups such as the RPM-RPA-ABB, the RHB, the MLPP-ABB, etc.
All of them deserve freedom. All of them long to embrace their loved ones.

Any meaningful amnesty proclamation must cover ALL political prisoners coming from ALL rebel groups. Any release of political prisoners should not discriminate against their political affiliation and must not exclude any by virtue of a limited period of coverage.
We must free ALL political prisoners recognized as such coming from ALL rebel groups regardless of when and where they committed their alleged offenses.

The amnesty proclamation should cover Juanito “Nitoy” Itaas, the longest held political prisoner to date (based on our records). He has already applied for amnesty under the administration of Fidel V. Ramos but was denied release due to outside pressure.

We reiterate our call: Free ALL political prisoners coming from ALL rebel groups!
Pursue peace based on justice!

EMMANUEL AMISTAD
Executive Director
ecamistad@yahoo.com

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[Press Release] IP struggle for Identity and Territory Consistent, Even Without Arms, says Lumad -LILAK

IP struggle for Identity and Territory Consistent, Even Without Arms, says Lumad

Jenevieve Cornelio, Teduray woman, speaking at Tapatan sa Aristocrat with MILF Chair Iqbal and Atty. Christian Monsod / photo by LRC

Jenevieve Cornelio, Teduray woman, speaking at Tapatan sa Aristocrat with MILF Chair Iqbal and Atty. Christian Monsod / photo by LRC

“Our struggle to assert our rights as Teduray to our identity and territory has started long before the MILF-GPH peace talks, and we have been very consistent about this,” says Jennevieve Cornelio, a Teduray woman leader of the Timuay Justice and Governance (TJG). “Kahit wala kaming armas.” (Even if we do not have arms.)

LILAK

Cornelio said that the IPs have been eased out of the peace talks, “because we are not armed.” This, however, does not mean the Lumads or the indigenous peoples in Mindanao do not have legitimate concerns. “Our territory is part of what is being proposed as Bangsamoro Territory. Our distinct identity as Teduray, Dulangan Manobo and Lambangian is being subsumed as Bangsamoro people. We cannot allow this.”

Cornelio was speaking as part of the panel in “Tapatan sa Aristocrat”, a media forum held Monday. The other members of the panel were Mohagher Iqbal, Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Atty. Christian Monsod, as part of the Peace Council.

“The IPs have representatives in the drafting of the BBL,” according to Iqbal, referring to Teduray members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) – Ms. Froilyn Mendoza, appointed by the Philippine government, and Melanio Ulama, appointed by the MILF. Monsod also stated that the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Affairs on Peace Process) held 32 consultations with IPs.

“But what was done by the OPAPP were IEC (Information, Education, campaign) and not consultations with the indigenous communities,” countered Cornelio. She acknowledged, however, that there were indeed two Teduray representatives in the BTC. But only one actually held consultations with the IP communities. “Comm. Mendoza held several community consultations, and we participated in those.” Cornelio said that it was through these consultations that they were able to discuss and propose IP provisions in the draft BBL. “We originally had 145 proposed provisions.” However, Cornelio narrated, after Comm. Mendoza brought these to the BTC, it was reduced to 69, then later, 13 provisions. “Now, none of our substantive proposals – not on IP identity, on our ancestral domain and the articulation of Rep. Act 8371 or Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) are there; but what can she do, Comm. Mendoza was the only one in the BTC fighting for our rights.”

Comm. Ulama, who appeared towards the end of the media forum, intervened and said that IPRA has not been implemented in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since the IP law has been enacted, 17 years ago. According to him, the IPs do not need IPRA anymore, and BBL as it is, is enough. Ulama further questioned the representation of Cornelio, and said that he did not know her, and where she was from. Cornelio then said, “You would not know me, as I am just an ordinary Teduray woman from the community of Brgy. Looy, South Upi, Maguindanao. I’m active in the assertion of women’s rights. You however, we know very well, as the Teduray representative appointed by the MILF.”

Cornelio is currently here in Manila as part of the Lumad delegation, representing the IPs from the core territory, as they push for the full inclusion of IP rights in the proposed BBL.

—-
For more information:
judy a. pasimio / 09175268341 / judy@lilak.net

LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilak-Purple-Action-for-Indigenous-Womens-Rights/446251688730248

[Press Release] Protesters staged picket in Senate; Calls on Senators to Do Not Delay passage of BBL -Bangsamoro para sa Bayan para sa Lahat

Protesters staged picket in Senate; Calls on Senators to Do Not Delay passage of BBL

Around 400 protesters belonging to the “Bangsamoro para sa Bayan para sa Lahat” coalition staged a picket in front of the Senate building today Monday, May 25, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. to call on members of the Committee headed by Sen. Bongbong Marcos to do a “Rufus Rodriguez” and fast track the process for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Carrying pictures of the Senators and tarpaulins with the slogans “Be A Peacemaker; Pass a CAB based BBL!” and “Do Not Delay, Peace under Construction. Pass a CAB based BBL!” the protesters asked Sen. Marcos as head of the Committee on Local Government to finalize the vote on the BBL within the week so as to synchronize the passage of the BBL with its counterpart bill at the House of Representatives, which is now currently awaiting plenary deliberations.

According to Bawgbug Program Coordinator Abdul Malik Cleofe, the protest action is the start of a series of actions that calls for the immediate passage of the BBL. “We feel that the sluggishness of the Committee in relation to coming up with a substantial discussion or position on the BBL is reflective of Sen. Marcos lack of commitment to the realization of peace in Mindanao and recognition of the right of the Bangsamoro for self-determination.”

Cleofe also said that “they are appealing to Sen. Marcos and other Senators critical to the BBL to fast track the process and to go beyond their myopic and biased view of the Bangsamoro question and see that their role is not only as lawmakers but also as peacemakers who would build the foundation for peace and development in Mindanao and in the country.”

Cleofe also questioned the statement of Sen.Marcos that there was no consultation with the Sultanate of Sulu, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and Local Government Officials. “I do not know who Sen. Marcos has spoken with but there were several consultations that were already conducted with all sectors concerned even prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). I hope that Sen. Marcos can prove his statement and show that this is not just a political manoeuvre to derail the passage of the BBL.”

“The groups being presented as not having been consulted are not the legitimate representatives of the Sultanate or the MNLF. If Sen. Marcos is not careful this might just backfire on his face and show his anti-BBL and anti-Bangsamoro position.” Cleofe stated.

PRESS RELEASE
May 25, 2015
For more inquiries: Carlo Abdul Malik Cleofe 0905-3821641 or GaniAbunda 0998-9251786 or 911-0205; 435-2900

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[Press Release] Enlightenment of Congress on BBL, prayed for in a ritual

Enlightenment of Congress on BBL, prayed for in a ritual
MAY 11, 2015

Photo by Lilak

Photo by Lilak

Quezon City – “Things are not black nor white. One cannot simply be pro-BBL or anti-BBL. Issues in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) are far more complex to be taken like this,” said Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray leader.

According to Timuay Bandara, there are a lot of serious issues and concerns raised by the indigenous peoples in Mindanao on the content of the BBL, particularly their identity and territory as non-Moro Indigenous Peoples. “We have consistently and persistently articulated these, to the Peace Panel then, and now in the Congress. The panel has failed us. Now, we hope the Congress will be enlightened to hear our voices, and pass a BBL that is truly inclusive, and just. We call for the full recognition and articulation of the indigenous peoples’ rights in the BBL.”

Timuay Bandara is one of the leaders who participated in a ritual to seek enlightenment for Congress as it resumes its deliberation on the proposed BBL. Tulak Bungkas Itungan, a ritual for enlightenment, was performed in front of the Batasang Pambansa by indigenous women and men, with Teduray flags, gongs, and chants. This was done a day before Congress deliberations resume on Monday.

“Dapat pantay na pagbalangkas ng batas, hindi maging tagapag-api ng mamayang minorya,” (“What should be drafted and passed is a fair and just law; not a law that would discriminate against the minority population.”) said Abay Rendaw Mosela, a Teduray Kemamal Keadan or Supreme Spiritual Leader who led the ritual. “We hope that the spirits will open and bless the minds and hearts of the members of the Congress as they deliberate the draft BBL.” Mosela added.

The indigenous peoples (IPs) are pushing that their identity as non-Moro indigenous peoples be recognized in the BBL. Non-Moro IPs are IPs who have not collectively (as a tribe) nor individually ascribed themselves as Bangsamoro. They assert that the unique identity of non-Moro IPs and all their rights arising from such identity should be respected at all times and under all conditions by the Bangsamoro Government, and this should be clearly articulated in the proposed BBL.

“Ang Batas ay para sa lahat hindi sa iilan lamang, at wala itong pinipili mahirap man oh mayaman, pantay na pagtingin sa karapatan ng tao para sa tutuong Kapayapaan,” said Jennevive Cornelio. (“The law is for everyone, and not just for some, and that it does not choose to work for the poor, or the rich alone; there should be an equal treatment of the rights of the people. Then there can be peace.”) Cornelio is one of the Teduray women leaders who played the gong during the ritual.

The ritual was attended and supported by IP rights and human rights advocates including Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MMPM), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Focus on the Global South, Stop the War Coalition-Phils., Tebtebba Foundation, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), and Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP).

Contact information
Timuay Alim Bandara Datu Roldan Babelo
Timuay Justice and Governance Gempa te Kelindaan ne Kamal
09308082422 09159052198

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[Statement] We are all for a just BBL! We are all for a just Peace! -IID

We are all for a just BBL! We are all for a just Peace!

Photo by IID

Photo by IID

We are now at a critical moment for peacemaking in Mindanao and the whole country.

On Monday, May 11, the members of the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives will cast their votes on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. Their votes will determine the fate, success or failure, not just of the proposed law but the future of a just peace, genuine progress and social justice in our country.

IID

On the same day, we members of civil society and solidarity movements, people’s organizations, women, youth, professionals, peace loving citizens, Christians, Muslims, of other faith communities and other sectors will march hand in hand to the House of Representatives, with a hope to witness the dusk of the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and the dawn of a new order where all the peoples of this nation will finally live in the haven of peace, genuine progress and harmony. Call it a dream but it is one dream we desperately hope to turn into a reality.

May 11 will be beyond just joining a big rally. It will be a massive Citizens Action for the Bangsamoro. For those of us who have witnessed the cruelty of war in Mindanao, for the bakwits who perennially leave their homes just to avoid being caught in the crossfires and for all the innocent victims of this long-drawn war in Mindanao – May 11 is an opportunity for all of us to show our sturdy unity to achieve genuine peace. History is now offering us a golden opportunity to rectify the injustices committed not just against the Bangsamoro but for all the oppressed peoples of our nation. Are we going to shun this once in a lifetime opportunity or grab and savor it like there’s no tomorrow? We choose the latter and we hope our lawmakers will showcase the same wisdom on May 11.

We are for the passage of the BBL in the spirit and principles of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that was inked between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 27, 2014. For us, passing a BBL not within the CAB framework is like providing the Bangsamoro people with a house without a roof and plates without food. A watered-down BBL will not address the legitimate concerns of the peoples of Mindanao but will simply aggravate the already desperate situation of peace in the south. The CAB recognizes the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and prosperity and allow for a meaningful self-governance.

It is impossible for us to find a viable formula for peace in Mindanao if we will base our judgement on biases and prejudices against the Moros and Muslims. If the House of Representatives and the Senate will pass the BBL, it should be on the premise of recognizing that the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples and other oppressed peoples of Mindanao have legitimate claims and therefore have the right to determine their own political future.

Thus, we from the Initiatives for International Dialogue, Friends of the Bangsamoro and All-Out Peace re-affirm our commitment to help see through the conclusion of the peace process and call on Congress to pass a just and inclusive BBL as we cannot afford any more delay. Yes, the BBL may not be perfect, but it embodies the democratic assertions and genuine aspirations of the Bangsamoro for their inherent right to self–determination.

So on Monday, we will witness the Citizens Action on the Bangsamoro.

Bangsamoro Para sa Bayan, Para sa Lahat! May the force and spirit of peace be with us on May 11.

PRESS STATEMENT
08 MAY 2015

Issued by: Friends of the Bangsamoro, All-Out-Peace and Initiatives for International Dialogue in a press-conference held in Quezon City.
For inquiries: Gani Abunda 0998-9251786 or 435-2900; 911-0205

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[From the web] Philippine peace groups call for solidarity and support for Mindanao peace process at APF 2015 -GPPAC-SEA

Philippine peace groups call for solidarity and support for Mindanao peace process at APF 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, APRIL 24 – In a bid to generate broader regional solidarity for peace in Mindanao including support for the ongoing Bangsamoro peace process, peace groups from the Philippines launched a signature campaign at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from April 22-24.

GPPAC

Malaysia is the Chair of this year’s ASEAN summit and host of the ACSC/APF from April 21 to 24. The ACSC/APF is an annual conference that started in Malaysia 10 years ago that has now attracted thousands of civil society participants working on various issues in the region.

The ‘DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR AN ALL-OUT-PEACE CAMPAIGN IN THE PHILIPPINES AND SOLIDARITY FOR THE PEACE PROCESS’, campaign calls for the ‘passage of a just and inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is now pending at the Philippine Congress as an instrument that will start to address and rectify the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro and other inhabitants of Mindanao.’

‘With challenges now confronting the Mindanao peace process and the BBL in the Philippines, we believe that the support and solidarity of all peace-loving leaders and citizens of the region who see that a negotiated political settlement is the key in resolving the century-old problem in Mindanao is necessary. We have to salvage the peace process by showing that people not just in the Philippines but in the region are in solidarity and united for a just peace,’ said Gus Miclat, regional initiator of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA) and executive director of the regional non-government advocacy and solidarity organization, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

IID has spearheaded peace-building efforts in Mindanao and has been in the forefront of engaging the peace process in the Philippines including in other conflict prevention initiatives in the region. Miclat is also a member of the ACSC/APF 2015 Steering Committee representing regional organizations.

Miclat explained, ‘it is impossible for us to find a viable formula for peace in Mindanao if we base our judgments solely on biases and prejudices against the Moros and Muslims. If the House of Representatives and the Senate will pass the BBL, it should be on the premise of recognizing that the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of Mindanao have legitimate claims and therefore have the right to determine their own political future.’

Read full article @aseanpeople.org

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[Press Release] Uphold women’s political participation, ASEAN governments urged -IID

Uphold women’s political participation, ASEAN governments urged

A day ahead of the 26th ASEAN Summit scheduled on April 26th and 27th in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, women activists and peacebuilders participants to the recently concluded ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) 2015 today urged ASEAN member states to uphold women’s political participation in conflict/post-conflict situations as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and General Recommendation number 30 of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

IID

‘It’s high time that women be guaranteed the right to a meaningful political participation and we urge ASEAN governments to institutionalize mechanisms to realize such. Women, particularly in Southeast Asia, have been experiencing discrimination and political exclusion in the decision making processes and structures addressing peace and security when in fact, women are the ones most vulnerable in times of wars and conflict,’ said Malou Tabios-Nuera, coordinator of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

Women participants to the ACSC/APF likewise called on ASEAN member states to immediately come up with their respective ‘national action plans’ on Women, Peace and Security. At present, according to the report of ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), only the Philippines and Indonesia have drafted their respective national action plans.

The AIPR was established under Provision B.2.2.1 of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint.

WOMEN IN CONFLICT SITUATIONS

Tabios-Nuera explained, ‘in the case of Myanmar/Burma for instance, there is a very limited women’s participation in ongoing peace negotiations with the state and non-state armed actors despite the formulation of a nationwide ceasefire agreement. Worse, even parliamentarians are excluded in the processes.’

She added, ‘data shows a very low percentage of women representation in the Myanmar government particularly in ministries and public administration. There is also a challenge to address discriminatory laws and practices that contribute to the infringement of women’s rights and political participation.’

According to the report of the Inter-Parliamentary Union issued in 2012, women from Burma especially those from ethnic communities are essentially disenfranchised at every level of post-conflict transition where important decisions are made. Burma ranks as one of the world’s lowest number of women in the national parliament with 5.7% occupied seats in the lower house and 1.8% in the upper chamber.

Meanwhile, the women in the Bangsamoro in Mindanao, Philippines may have undertaken relatively higher political participation in the peace process, but ‘the right to equal opportunity and non-discrimination of women in social and economic activities have yet to be implemented especially in the conflict-affected communities,’ said Dayang Karna Bahidjan of Nisa UL Haqq FI or Bangsamoro Women for Justice

Tabios-Nuera stressed, ‘a genuinely people-centered ASEAN should also mean a women-centered ASEAN that recognizes the significant role of women in peaceful and democratic social transformation. Women can no longer afford to be confined by a system that doesn’t recognize their capacities and strengths to effect meaningful changes.’

She concluded, ‘the ASEAN vision of a peaceful and prosperous community by 2015 and beyond will remain illusory without women being part of its blueprint. To the ASEAN heads of states, we appeal to make this 26th ASEAN summit a stage to turn the hopes and aspirations of women into a concrete reality.’

PRESS RELEASE
25 APRIL 2015
Contacts: Gani Abunda – 09989251786 (roaming) ; 011-31839973 and Gus Miclat 09177013099 (roaming)

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[Press Release] ASEAN urged to strengthen Civil Society’s role in regional peace and human security -GPPAC-SEA

ON THE ACSC/APF 2015 IN KUALA LUMPUR:
ASEAN urged to strengthen Civil Society’s role in regional peace and human security

‘As the ASEAN heads towards developing its Post-2015 vision of a people-centered and peaceful ASEAN, key members of civil society organizations (CSO) see the crucial task for the regional bloc to strengthen the role of the CSOs in addressing the issues of regional peace and human security that continue to challenge the entire regional community.’

GPPAC

Thus said Gus Miclat, regional initiator of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA) and executive director of the regional non-government advocacy and solidarity organization, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) in a press conference held today at WISMA MCA, Kuala Lumpur, the venue of this year’s ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) 2015.

Malaysia is the Chair of this year’s ASEAN summit and host of the ACSC/APF from April 21 to 24. The ACSC/APF is an annual conference that started in Malaysia 10 years ago that has now attracted thousands of civil society participants working on different issues in the region. The conference is held parallel to the ASEAN Summit scheduled on April 26th and 27th.

GO BEYOND RHETORIC, FACE THE CHALLENGES
Miclat added, ‘with the continuing armed conflicts and disputes within countries like Burma/Myanmar, the Philippines and in south Thailand, the ASEAN should go beyond its rhetoric of conflict management and prevention by creating concrete mechanisms to proactively prevent and resolve existing conflicts in the region.’

He further explained, ‘in demonstrating ASEAN’s commitment to a comprehensive security as stated in the ASEAN political-security blueprint, ASEAN member governments must strengthen its preventive diplomacy to address comprehensive human security issues and the social impacts of recurring conflicts by establishing partnerships especially with civil society movements.’

Miclat said that they concretely deem that a preventive clause in the existing ASEAN dispute and settlement mechanism must be included in the ASEAN charter to serve as a catalyst for dialogue, good governance and peace building.

Miclat stressed, ‘towards this goal, the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) which was created in 2011 should create consultative and partnership mechanisms with the civil society organizations to facilitate a more active and inclusive citizen participation especially of communities directly affected by the conflicts.’

INSTITUTIONALIZING WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION
GPPAC and IID likewise urged the ASEAN member states to strictly fulfill their obligations to institutionalize women’s participation in decision-making processes on peace building, conflict prevention and democratic governance according to the principles enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and General Recommendation number 30 of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Miclat concluded, ‘as the ASEAN tackles peace and security issues in this year’s summit, we appeal to the collective wisdom of the ASEAN leaders to make this event a landmark of new hopes, genuine peace and inclusive regional progress by providing greater attention to the legitimate concerns of all the peoples in our region.’

PRESS RELEASE
21 APRIL 2015
Contacts: Gani Abunda – 09989251786 (roaming) ; 011-31839973 and Gus Miclat 09177013099 (roaming)

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Event] Public Forum: ‘The State of the Peace Process and the BBL: A Citizens’ Conversation’- IID

Public Forum: ‘The State of the Peace Process and the BBL: A Citizens’ Conversation’.

Vote for this event for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards

March 24, 2015 (Tuesday) 2:30pm to 6:00pm – UP Balay Kalinaw.

Organizers: Friends of the Bangsamoro, Mindanao Solidarity Network, Mindanao Peaceweavers, All-Out-Peace, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – SEA, Freedom from Debt Coalition & Initiatives for International Dialogue.

IID

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[People] Why the House of Representatives Should Continue the Mamasapano Hearings by Rep. Walden Bello

Why the House of Representatives Should Continue the Mamasapano Hearings
Rep. Walden Bello
Feb 18, 2015

Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues:

It is unfortunate that the joint hearings of the Committee on Public Order and Safety and Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity were cancelled by the House leadership. The much criticized disorder among House members during the Feb 11 hearing stemmed from the emotions coursing through the nation at this point. Our colleagues are not immune to these conflicting feelings roiling their constituents. The committee hearing was a microcosm of our society, and given the scale of the Mamasapano tragedy, it would have been unrealistic to expect our members to display their usual cool, courteous, collected demeanor.

Walden Bello word.world-citizenship.org

Unearthing the Facts

Despite the so-called disorder, Mr. Speaker, the hearing did achieve some progress in terms of unearthing vital facts, like the fact that the president did not seem to be informed of the unraveling of the raid till very late in the day. In fact, the several days of hearings in the Senate and the House have gradually yielded the basic contours of the Mamasapano tragedy.

What are these?

The decisive element, it appears, was the deliberate withholding of information about the SAF operation from key people at the top of the PNP and AFP hierarchy. This withholding of information led to the fatal lack of coordination between the AFP and PNP in the mounting of a rescue effort when the operation began to unravel. Further, it led to chaos when the AFP, PNP, and the MILF tried to get the combatants to disengage.

The scenario that emerges is the following: To nab a notorious terrorist, those who conceived and implemented the operation chose not to inform the top people in the police and AFP leadership and ignored and subverted the procedures and mechanism for territorial access worked out by the MILF, the government peace panel, Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (ADHJAG), and the AFP. The MILF fighters responded to what they perceived as a large invasion force, and once the battle began, it became very difficult for their leaders to realize the intent of the SAF contingent and get their forces to disengage. If it took several hours for the AFP and the PNP SAF to coordinate their actions owing to the information and operations gaps, one can understand how much more difficult coordination was among the government peace panel, AFP, ADHJAG, and MILF leadership, all of who had limited information on the causes and progress of the encounter.

Having said that, it is nevertheless clear to this representation that the anti-SAF forces on the ground engaged in overkill and that some combatants committed acts that violated the universally accepted rules of engagement codified in the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, such as the execution of disabled enemy combatants.

More critical details remain to be extracted by future hearings, Mr. Speaker, but I think there is now sufficient testimony to show that President Aquino, General Purisima, and SAF Commander Napenas took unacceptable risks in keeping the Marwan operation a secret from key people in the police, AFP, and civilian leadership, and that they must own up to principal responsibility for the tragic consequences of their withholding vital information, including the deaths of 44 brave policemen.

Unearthing the US Role

There is still, however, one big lacuna in the investigation, and this is one of the key reasons why the Senate and House investigations must go on to the bitter end. I am referring to the role of the United States. From the beginning, Mr Speaker, the operation had the earmarks of a US-managed special operation. Getting Marwan was top priority for Washington. The quick insertion-neutralization-extrication method employed by the SAF is one that has been perfected by US Navy Seals. Heightening suspicions were the presence of a US chopper at the scene shortly after the encounter, allegedly to evacuate casualties, and the disappearance of Marwan’s index finger and its surfacing in the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s laboratory.

The detailed accounts of US involvement by an anonymous SAF officer that appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday and today cannot simply be dismissed as speculative. What convinces me of their authenticity is the SAF officer’s revelation that the Americans insisted on the use of the 84th SAF Company as the assault team to snatch Marwan, opposing a fused contingent of the 55th Company and the 84th Company as conceived in the original Oplan Exodus. The Americans had their way: the 84th snatched Marwan while the 55th served as the blocking force, which was slaughtered. When I visited Camp Bagong Diwa to pay my respects to the dead SAF troops on Jan 30, I took the opportunity to interview a number of members of SAF. I was struck by how they referred to the 84th as an “elite unit.” When I asked why, they told me the 84th was a seaborne unit that specialized in the insert-neutralize-and extricate operations mastered by the US Navy Seals. Indeed, as one SAF member proudly told me, the 84th Seaborne had undergone special training by “retired” US Navy Seals. This prior revelation to me on Jan 30 made very credible the Inquirer’s claim in yesterday’s issue about the Americans’ insistence that the 84th SAF Company serve as the only unit to neutralize Marwan. It was their special unit in the Special Action Force.

Mr. Speaker, we are simply seeing the tip of the iceberg. Congress’ investigation of the Mamasapano tragedy has a long, long way to go.
The point is that with the increasing credibility of investigative new reports and curt denials coming from the PNP that the US was intimately involved in the operation, it becomes less and less viable to leave the investigation of this whole affair to the Executive, much less the PNP. We have to perform our constitutionally mandated duty of oversight over the Executive’s performance of its functions. To leave it to the Executive to investigate itself is not only to invite a cover-up; it is dereliction of duty on our part.

BBL and the Facts on the Ground

Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to proceed to another concern. Undeniably, the Mamasapano tragedy has destabilized the peace process. It is right to be angry. It is certainly understandable to call for a pause in the consideration of the Bangsa Moro Basic Law. But it is wrong to give up on the peace process, wrong to turn our backs on the BBL.

Mr. Chairman, both sides are tired of war. They want peace, not peace at any price, but peace based on the recognition of the hard facts on the ground. The MILF has recognized those facts on the ground and moved from a position of demanding independence to one of accepting autonomy. The Philippine government has similarly recognized the facts on the ground and moved from all-out war to crush the MILF to a willingness to accept the political solution of autonomy for the Bangsa Moro people. After nearly 50 years of war, both sides have arrived at a meeting of minds. The last hurdle is legislative approval of this meeting of minds based on mutual recognition of the hard facts on the ground. Let us not turn our backs on the BBL and give in to those whose hard-line opposition can only result in more years of an unwinnable war and possibly a worse end-game. Those who make autonomy impossible now will make separation inevitable later.

Promoting Sobriety, not Fanning the Flames

This leads to my last point, Mr. Chairman. Those voices that incite us to return to the battlefield belong not to the military, who know that military victory is impossible, but to civilian personalities who see the Mamasapano tragedy as a way to further their self serving political agenda. During last week’s hearing at the Senate, we had an appalling demonstration of this from someone I used to have respect for. Instead of calming public passions to create a better environment for the search for truth, we saw a demagogical performance that was hell bent on fanning these passions with incendiary discourse based on inaccuracies, distortions and falsehoods, including a slide intended to convey a deliberately misleading image suggesting an MILF fighter firing an ultra-long-range sniper rifle a la Brad Cooper in “American Sniper.” Such demagoguery can only have the effect of stoking anti-Moro and anti-Muslim feelings that can lead us back to war.

Mr. Chairman, in these sensitive times, we as the leaders of the country should be promoting sobriety in the search for truth, not deploying jihadist rhetoric calculated to destroy all possibility of a peaceful settlement of the Mindanao conflict. In their determination to sabotage the peace process, the BIFF, unfortunately, may have found an ideal counterpart in this volatile member of the Senate. Politics indeed makes strange bedfellows.

This representation appeals to the senator in question to please desist from poisonous rhetoric and cease using the Senate hearing on Mamasasano as a platform for his political ambitions. Huwag po ninyong gamitin ang mga bangkay ng fallen 44 bilang tuntungan para sa inyong ambisyon. Sacrilegiyo ho yan. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, it is my contention that much of the negative reaction to the congressional hearings on Mamasapano does not stem from our so-called disorder or our repetitive questioning of resource persons but by the opportunistic use of the hearings by a handful of people like the senator in question, not as a means to ferret out the truth but as a soapbox to pursue their ideological and political agenda.

Let me end by appealing to President Aquino to fully accept responsibility for the Mamasapano fiasco and come clean on everything related to the raid, including the big question on everybody’s mind, which is the role of the United States. This is the only way for him to regain the public’s trust.

And, lastly, Mr. Speaker, let us by all means continue with our hearings.

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