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Question: What is the latest update on the peace situation in Mindanao? CPNN article: Thousands call on UN to prevent massive war in Philippines
CPNN Administrator
Posted: Dec. 31 1999,17:00

This discussion question applies to the following articles:

Thousands call on UN to prevent massive war in Philippines
Peace Initiatives in SOCSARGEN-Philippines
Why peace has a foothold in the Philippines
One Step Closer to Peace in the Philippines
Nonviolent Peaceforce Statement On Framework Agreement On The Bangsamoro (FAB) Signing (Philippines)
Philippines: Bangsamoro peace pact a major contribution to country, world
Philippines: Schools of Peace: Antidote to culture of war, violence
Nonviolent Peaceforce opens protection site in Lanao del Norte (Philippines)
Interfaith dialogue vs. ‘spoilers’ of Mindanao peace set in Cotabato
Philippines: Mindanao mayors back Bangsamoro Basic Law
Philippines: Local Bangsamoro films show peaceful, harmonious side of Mindanao
The Mindanao-Sulu Peace and History Education Project (Philippines)
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: May 18 2008,18:50

The following official statement has been received on May 15 from the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society on the phased pull-out of the Malaysian contingent in the International Monitoring Team. CBCS is a network of 168 non-government and people's organizations in Mindanao. You may visit its website at www.cbcsi.org or send an e-mail to secretariat@cbcsi.org)

The pull-out of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) led by the Malaysian Government has created several reactions or statements from various sectors.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has declared it was surprised of the pronouncement by Malaysia regarding IMT’s "phased pull-out" but it "respects and accepts their latest decision." The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has asserted that Kuala Lumpur "is doing the right thing".

Let it be noted however that said pull-out is not at all a surprise. The Malaysian Government has been sincere and honest in mediating the GRP-MILF Peace Talks. And we value and treasure this very much. Nevertheless it must have already been fed up by the way the Philippine Government has been "playing around" with the peace talks.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno has said government should not give in to MILF’s demand for a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) without a plebiscite, and Armed Forces Vice Chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Romero said peace talks would not continue without disarming the MILF.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has said in his television program "Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa" (From the masses, For the masses) that he thinks the government is just playing around in the talks with the MILF.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita had once told a group of non-government workers from Mindanao that the Arroyo administration policy vis-à-vis the GRP-MILF Peace Talks is 'paikutin lang' (to play around).

Secretary Jesus Dureza, the presidential adviser on the peace process, assessed the impasse as "among the most serious to stall the rocky talks, a big hump" upon which the Philippine government has no "magic formula" while "looking for a way out".

To recall, when GRP-MILF Peace Talks was in full swing, the Bangsamoro was so hopeful that finally a just and lasting peace will shine again in their homeland. United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney even visited the MILF camp and expressed support to the peace process.

However, the IMT pull-out has again pushed the prospects of restoring peace in Mindanao - which has been a long yearning of both the native inhabitants and migrants in this land - to uncertainty.

This is not amazing because the government’s record or performance in peace talks is not fulfilling. GRP forged a peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 but a decade later the MNLF has not been satisfied with the implementation and cried for tripartite review of said accord. GRP also engaged peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) but the latter withdrew because while the peace talks was ongoing, military offensives were launched by the GRP against the New People’s Army (NPA). And now the MILF suffers the same situation.

Ahead of Malaysia’s pull-out from IMT, GRP has now been busy in flexing its arms: spreading propaganda and boosting its military capacity. The military wanted an "emergency procurement" for nearly 1.6 billion pesos worth of artillery and explosives; procurement of thousands of rockets, howitzers and mortars as part of its "regular build-up". Furthermore, the Department of Defense has been asked to scrap bidding procedure for said weapons in favor of an "emergency procurement." What GRP has been doing sends a strong message of preparation for large-scale war - an undisputed threat
to national security! God forbid!

Given all these scenarios, the Bangsamoro people could only hope that -  if only Manila has the strong political will and creativity to pursue peace talks and implement agreement, it can adopt the experience of other countries without invoking constitutional process. For at the onset of the GRP-MILF peace talks, the consensus between the two parties was clear: GRP will not refer to Constitution and MILF will not demand for independence.

We therefore urge Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to exercise her full power both as President of the Republic of the Philippines and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to uphold the primacy of the peace talks over military solution to address the centuries-old Mindanao problem!

The civilian is at all times superior over the military as demonstrated by her positions. Military actions and circumventing peace talks are inutile as proven in history. They can only produce superficial peace because they are not based on justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Let neither the forthcoming ARMM elections nor the pushing for Constitutional Change impede the resumption of GRP-MILF the talks and signing of a peace agreement, or be a stumbling block in honest review of the government-MNLF final peace accord.

We appeal to the MILF and MNLF to exercise extra patience in dealing with the GRP in peace talks.

Likewise, we call on both the local and international community to help us Mindanaoans to attain the kind of peace that we want, not what others want for us! Be with us in pushing the talks forward!

Chairperson, CBCS Sulu Region

Chairperson, CBCS Sibugay Region

Chairperson, CBCS Basilan Region

Chairperson, CBCS Zamboanga Region

Chairperson, CBCS Kutawato Region

Chairperson, CBCS Ranaw Region

Chairperson, CBCS Rajah Buayan Region

Chairperson, CBCS Dabaw Region

Secretary General, CBCS
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: Oct. 12 2012,07:52

The agreement of October 15 2012 has given rise to optimism, but many problems remain.  For a typical analysis see that of The Economist.

The Philippines' Southern Insurgency

It could be peace

Hopes grow for an end to a bloody and long-running insurgency

AFTER 16 years of on-and-off negotiations, the Philippines government and the main Muslim rebel group in the southern region of Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, agreed to the outlines of a peace deal on October 6th. The two sides are due to sign it formally on October 15th. If it works, which is far from guaranteed, it could bring an end to more than four decades of fighting by armed Muslims seeking independence from the mainly Christian archipelago nation. The Mindanao conflict has killed perhaps 120,000 people and displaced 2m more. Mindanao is home to most of the country’s Muslims, who make up about 5% of the population of about 100m.

The agreement is not a final peace deal, but rather what President Benigno Aquino describes as “a framework agreement” and the front calls a “road map”. Yet both sides believe that it paves the way for what Mr Aquino hopes will prove “a final, enduring peace” in Mindanao.

The peace plan envisages the establishment of an autonomous Muslim area in Mindanao, called Bangsamoro, subject to a plebiscite there. The proposed Bangsamoro will have budgetary autonomy and a just share of revenues from the extraction of southern resources; its own police force; and sharia law for Muslims only. In exchange for autonomy, the front will end its armed campaign for independence. The national government will retain control over foreign policy and national security.

All fine stuff. But the government and the rebels have yet to agree on the details. It will be the task of a joint commission to draft a basic law for Bangsamoro that sets out the structure of government. The peace plan envisages that Bangsamoro will be slightly larger than the present Muslim autonomous area of Mindanao, which was set up in 1996 as part of a peace accord with the front’s predecessor as standard-bearer of Muslim independence, the Moro National Liberation Front. The present autonomous area became such a sink of violence and corruption that Mr Aquino’s government took it over.

Some evident problems remain to be sorted out. Fiercely protective local politicians in Christian-dominated parts of Mindanao are already twitching, lest any attempt be made to encroach on what they regard as their territory. The peace plan speaks of “decommissioning” rebel forces, thought by the government to number 11,000 armed fighters. This will be crucial, since the big flaw with earlier accords was that, although some fighters were taken into the army and police, others were left roaming the country. Peace is unlikely to take hold unless the front—a hardly cohesive agglomeration of warlords—can get its members to stick to the process. Already, one breakaway faction, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, has rejected peace negotiations and has been violating a ceasefire. Nor will a peace settlement cover myriad armed groups in Mindanao—some gangsters, some Islamist militants, many both.

Assuming negotiators can get around such obstacles, the government hopes to have Bangsamoro established by the time Mr Aquino steps down in 2016. It may take longer. Yet patience will not be infinite, and that is why the peace plan, incomplete as it is, is being presented for signing now. Likewise, the insurgency’s leaders must quickly produce something to show for the years of hardship that their followers have endured. Otherwise they risk pushing younger Muslims into the arms of Islamist extremists. America regards one group of Filipino militants, Abu Sayyaf, with al-Qaeda links, as terrorists. Several hundred American troops are in Mindanao helping Philippine forces stamp the group out. In the long run the government hopes peace will allow Mindanao’s agricultural and mineral wealth to be exploited, so that prosperity banishes all thoughts of militancy and conflict. America says it is ready to pour aid into Mindanao if peace holds.

The prospect of peace in Mindanao has quickly prompted speculation about whether this model could help resolve other long-running insurgencies in South-East Asia. Violence has spiked again this year in the deep south of Thailand where, as in Mindanao, armed Muslim groups have spent decades fighting for an independent Pattani state. In Myanmar, armed militias from ethnic groups such as the Karen and Kachin have been battling for some independence from central Burman authority for five or more decades.

The Mindanao model

The Mindanao peace plan advances a sort of federal formula as the compromise solution. Central government will concede a high degree of autonomy to would-be separatists, but retain sovereignty. Highly centralised states, such as Thailand, can barely contemplate this. Yet it worked in Aceh province in Indonesia in 2005, in some ways a precursor to the Mindanao deal. If it works in the Philippines, then more Thais, particularly in the powerful army, might just be persuaded of its merits. But the prospects are better in Myanmar. The generals there have studied Aceh closely, and peace in Mindanao might push them to consider similar arrangements in their own country. Furthermore, the principal mediator in the Mindanao deal was Malaysia, showing that new constitutional arrangements can be brokered by well-meaning locals.
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