Friday, October 16, 2015

International community calls for continuation of the peace process and urges parties to not abandon the gains of negotiations

From the Website of MILF

International community calls for continuation of the peace process and urges parties to not abandon the gains of negotiations

International community calls for continuation of the peace process and urges parties to not abandon the gains of negotiations
Yesterday, October 15, 2015, the international community in the Philippines represented by 24 foreign envoys from across the globe and all continents – Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Africa – took a united stand on the current state of the peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government (GPH), calling on the parties to remain committed to the peace process and not abandon the gains of almost 20 years of peace negotiations.  

In an unprecedented and historic move, Ambassadors representing Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Czech Republic, the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, Italy, Japan and the United States signed a unity statement that was unveiled in a modest but powerful ceremony held in Makati City.

In the aforementioned statement, the group of Ambassadors, reportedly calling themselves as “International Friends for Peace”, implored concerned parties “to remain engaged in the peace process, to give life to the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), and to the long term political, economic and social pillars that will bring the peace dividend to the country as a whole.”  For the said envoys, the peace process in Mindanao could present to the rest of the world an exemplary case of the peaceful resolution of an armed conflict.

In addressing the Bangsamoro problem, they asked parties to work within the 1987 Constitution while also recognizing of the aspirations of the people of the Bangsamoro to “form an effective and inclusive, devolved administration”.  Furthermore, the envoys reiterated that parties must resolve not to use violence and ensure that existing safeguard and security mechanisms remain functional.

For the MILF, the statement could not come at a better time as the process is currently at a critical juncture where the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could challenge the commitments made by the parties and threaten the ongoing implementation of various commitments stipulated in the peace agreement.  It also sees this message from the international community as an affirmation of the MILF’s responsibility to finding a just and lasting solution to the age old conflict in the Bangsamoro region through peaceful and political means.  The statement and its text is a triumph of peace diplomacy which often is conducted behind closed doors and without being mentioned in public discourse.   Furthermore, it considers the message as a rejoinder to the statement released by the MILF Central Committee after its internal meeting held last September 2 to 3, 2015 held in a foreign venue. This statement conveyed a clear and strong message from the highest levels of the MILF leadership to continue on the path for peace and pursue a political solution to the Bangsamoro problem. 

The MILF knew early on of the critical role the international community would play in keeping the momentum of the peace process by 1) keeping note of the performance of the parties in the carrying out the obligations highlighted in the signed agreements, and 2) providing the necessary support and advice to the parties in case of an impasse.  In the current peace process architecture, select members of the international community were invited to take on these tasks (e.g. International Monitoring Team, International Contact Group, Independent Decommissioning Body, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Third Party Monitoring Team, Independent Commission on Policing, etc.), which has helped the parties reached milestones relentlessly pursue implementation of the signed agreements despite the challenges. 

On the MILF side, its consistent statements and conduct of ceremonial decommissioning are testament of its performance in delivering MILF's part of the deal. Some of the statements of commitments from leaders of the Front are as follow: 1) We will stay engaged in the pursuit of peace no matter what happens to the BBL; 2) We also trust the President Benigno Aquino III and acknowledge his commitment to the peace process; and 3) We believe the BBL would ensure good governance and inclusivity in the Bangsamoro and will lead to the final resolution of the armed conflict in Mindanao.

In reaction to the statement, Mohagher Iqbal, who chairs both the MILF Peace Panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, viewed the statement as a triumph of path of peace over those who advocate for violence in Mindanao.

“We are very much inspired by the message shared by the international community as well as their assurance of the continued support to the peace process, including the implementation of the CAB,” he said in a interview with Luwaran.

In response, he assured the international community that they will find the MILF as their reliable partner with a proven track record for sustainable peace and security in Mindanao.

“The return to war will not emanate from the MILF,” he stressed, while hoping that the next president who will be elected in 2016 will not adopt an all-out war against the MILF similar to the one waged in 2000 by then President Joseph Estrada.

MILF Website

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