The Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Agenda (MPPA) of the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) has won the endorsement of two key international civil society networks.

The agenda was recently endorsed by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict in South East Asia (GPPAC) – a coalition of global civil society-led network established in 2003 in response to the call made by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for an international conference of civil society organisations working in the field of conflict prevention.

In its regional steering group meeting in Thailand last week, GPPAC also appealed to the Philippine government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to consider the concerns of the peoples of Mindanao as embodied in the MPPA.

“The peoples of Mindanao are not mere spectators in the on-going armed conflict. It is but right for them to assert their right to become active partners in identifying the root causes of the armed conflict and in prescribing appropriate solutions”, its statement said.

GPPAC said that it recognizes the important role of the civilian population for whom the protagonists in the armed conflict claim to represent, but ironically are the ones who suffer the brunt of the violence.

Meanwhile, the International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies (ISC/CD), a global network of civil society organizations committed to democracy and human rights with membership from 25 democratic countries including the Philippines has also endorsed the document.

In its statement released in Washington, D.C., the International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies expressed hope that with a new government installed in the Philippines and President Aquino’s avowed commitment to pursue the peace talks, they believe that the MPPA will be given an opportunity to positively contribute to the peace process.

“We call on both parties to utilize the MPPA in its ongoing efforts towards building a stable and just peace for the region”, the ISC statement said.

The MPPA identifies 15 key issues that conflict actors in Mindanao need to address to achieve a just and lasting peace. The 15-point agenda which prominently respects the aspirations of the right to self-determination of the peoples in Mindanao, was a result of a series of consultations with grassroots communities, NGOs, peace advocates, victims of conflict among others in a span of two years by the broadest civil society peace constituency in the region composed of more than seven civil society networks called the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW).

MPW is the broadest civil society network of peace advocates in Mindanao.

The MPPA likewise calls for ensuring civilian protection and assistance during armed conflicts; effective measures towards ending corruption and impunity; institutonalize indigenous ways of resolving conflicts; address the roots of the socio-economic problems of the island and ensure a more serious consideration of climate change in the promotion of a sustainable plan for Mindanao.

It also called for correcting the historical injustices in the island including engaging in a continuing discussion on the narratives of the Bangsamoro and lumad peoples in an effort to rediscover the historical truth regarding Mindanao.

MPW’s lead secretariat is the Davao- based regional solidarity NGO, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID). IID is also the GPPAC-SEA regional initiator and its Executive Director, Gus Miclat, sits in GPPAC’s global Executive Committee as well as the Steering Committee of the ISC/CD.

During its launch, some prominent figures also endorsed the spirit of the document including Usec. Rafael Seguis, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Special Concerns and former Chair of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines negotiating panel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); Congresswoman Luz Ilagan of the Gabriela party-list; Datu Antonio Kinoc, alternate member of the MILF negotiating panel representing the indigenous peoples; Maj. Gen. Carlos Holganza, now the new commander of the National Development Support Command and Brig. Gen. Jose Vizcarra now the new Armed Forces adjutant general. Major General Datuk Baharom bin Hamzah, Head of Mission of the International Monitoring Team as well as diplomats from the Consulates of Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan were also at the launch.

“The MILF has also indicated openness to be engaged on the MPPA. We deeply appreciate their solidarity with our struggle for peace in Mindanao and the lumads and Bangsamoro’s inalienable right to self determination,” stated Zamboanga-based Fr. Angel Calvo, lead convenor of the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW).

In the coming weeks, the MPPA is expected to draw more support and participation from across the world as convernors of the MPW will lobby the agenda with the Aquino government and key MILF officials engaged in the peace talks. A series of meetings between the MPW convenors and both the government and the MILF on their concrete feedback on the MPPA are being planned. The agenda will also be presented to local government units, the diplomatic and donor community. The MPW has reiterated that the MPPA is a “living document” and is thus an evolving covenant of and with the peoples of Mindanao that goes beyond any peace agreement.

Aside from the the two global civil society organizations, a growing number of local grassroots organizations, advocacy groups, professional associations and NGOs in Mindanao have also expressed their support for the Mindanao Peoples Peace Agenda and their interest to become a part of the Mindanao Peaceweavers. (IID)