Today August 13, marks the first official meeting in Malaysia between the peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It will be the first of many meetings expected to be convened not only for the MILF peace process, but for the other peace tables set with other non-state armed actors (NSAs) of the Philippines. This first meeting is undertaken less than fifty days after the administration of the 16th Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was inaugurated. Led by the President’s words and call for action, the various departments and offices have followed suit in seeking ways and means to fast-track changes to national governance processes, striving to eliminate red tape, bureaucracy and stifling corruption, and ensure that the least served are no longer ignored.

In such a short time, President Duterte has exhibited willingness to act quickly and decisively, making him a lightning rod for both praise and criticism. He has pushed for the peace talks to proceed, at times combining offerings of the olive branch in one hand, with the proverbial stick in the other. He has pushed for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to consider agreeing to a “convergence” of its slated interests, claims and conditions with that of the MILF, anchored as they are in a common ideal of a united Bangsamoro homeland. He has further challenged the National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (NDF-NPA) to return to its own stalled talks with the government by meeting again in Oslo, Norway this August 20. To their collective credit, the various leaderships of the various NSAs have expressed a willingness to discuss and explore such

With these incremental gains and concessions, we are heartened that all peace tracks have guardedly been opened again. It is perhaps timely that it is this administration, led by a president with Moro blood, raised and steeped in the realities of the country’s disadvantaged south that is Mindanao, is now dealing with the three (3) longest-running conflicts rooted among Mindanao’s disadvantaged peoples.

It is also heartening to hear that in the ongoing MILF peace talks, implementation of the executable elements of the peace agreements shall be attended to, even as the administration grapples with other important issues. Paramount among these is the amendment of the 1987 Constitution, a tack no previous administration has seriously considered, much more proposed. This in itself is a bold step, considering how the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) floundered and emerged stillborn in the halls of the 16th Congress.

We peace advocates and activists alike, while valuing the eventual grant of benefits and attention long deprived our suffering brothers and sisters in Mindanao’s south for so long, still advocate at this time for the landmark passage of legislation that remains compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) agreed upon in October, 2012. If this administration can work for and ensure an even better enabling law, we would be even more grateful. However, a CAB-compliant law remains our fundamental aspiration. We do this in part to honor the numerous and nameless hundreds of thousands who’ve advocated, campaigned, suffered and even died for a true Bangsamoro homeland and peace in

We cite the tri-people and their leaders in Mindanao, who sought peace through decades of dialogues, meetings, delegations, kinship rituals and ceremonies, so that their peoples’ interests meet and converge for the benefit of their Mindanao homeland. We cite the countless academics and students from here and abroad, who sought to define, analyze and encapsulate the roots of our conflict and the values for peace that underpin Mindanao’s unrest. We laud civil society organizations and movements who’ve engaged all sides and called for staying the course of peace, even as calls for war grew deafening. We recognize the other non-state armed actors who have de-escalated their actions, instead considering further negotiations and convergence measures towards conflict-resolution. We salute the efforts of past and current administrations and their
peace envoys in considering, communicating and accommodating positions, as has the current MILF and other panels at their peace tables. All these have shaped these processes and deserve our recognition and continuing support.

We further affirm the steps now taken by the current administration for going the extra mile and thinking “outside the box” when formulating options and courses of action. We affirm their efforts to make government’s benefits and changes encompassing and inclusive. We affirm the administration’s sense of nationalism and desire for all Filipinos’ well-being to come first. We further affirm the President’s own words to “… ensure inclusivity in the peace process” for we believe it is only through grassroots engagement and solidarity such as this, can a true formula for lasting peace be founded upon.

Lastly we shall continue to support all efforts for the establishment and recognition of a truly representative and empowered Bangsamoro, a resurgent Mindanao and a Philippines at peace with itself. We support this to ensure that Mindanao’s peace and stability redound to the greater benefit of the whole Philippines. The success of our peace initiatives will ultimately shift our collective focus from security and conflict-resolution mode, to one addressing sustainable peace and development. In this lies our motivation and collective hope!

To a truly empowered peace in the Bangsamoro, Mindanao and the Philippines!

Mabuhay ang kapayapaan! Mabuhay tayong lahat!

IID Statement on Resumption of Philippine Peace Processes.
August 13, 2016.