Today as we move onwards with our efforts at defining peace in Mindanao, we the Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW) commend both parties of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for extending by one additional day their 32nd Round of Exploratory Talks currently being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This laudable step to maximize the opportunity to talk peace shows us the commitment of both parties at making these talks truly substantial and a priority matter for all concerned. This added thread so to speak, spun into Mindanao’s unfolding tapestry of peace, sustains and emboldens us in the MPW to redouble our own efforts at building a lasting peace.

Much like the GPH and MILF, each of the individual members of the Mindanao Peace Weavers have held in their hands bits and pieces of these strands feeding into the desired vision of peace in Mindanao. Individually, each of our nine (9) member organizations and networks have spun a valued thread or two or more that, when braided and woven into those held by others, make our combined efforts stronger, broader, more encompassing and complete. Some of these threads were spun early on, during the times of neglect, conflict and displacement Mindanao suffered. Others came much later, nurtured under the more tenuous and emerging culture of peace we now find ourselves in. Some of these cords are rooted in diverse regions of the country, yet they all join together in Mindanao and its people, anchoring them all.

Each thread for us at MPW holds a particular history, a particular theme, at times even peals of laughter fondly remembered, along with the memories of loss and painful tears. But whatever their histories may hold unfurled, we offer them now to both panels as they hammer together at defining the framework for Mindanao’s dream for peace. Ultimately, we all pray for the day when the final tapestry we have worked on for so long will finally be unfurled, openly expressing our hopes and dreams for the homeland we share, Mindanao.

To this end, we offer from the Agong Peace Network the resolve and support of 32 community-based peace organizations and individuals spread throughout the four corners of Mindanao. We enjoin the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in this cause, continuing to represent the largest network of Bangsamoro non-government and peoples organizations in Mindanao. We support the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), as they continue to lead the largest interfaith and multi-sectoral peace efforts in Zamboanga City and adjoining provinces. We stand fast with the Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC) in their efforts at specially promoting local peace issues before key stakeholders of the Mindanao public.

We also support the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), as they promote their tri-people constituency and rich experience in Bantay-Ceasefire and Sagip Sibilyan mechanisms, all working towards furthering a grassroots-based civilian rights protection and support system. We applaud the efforts of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM) as well and its tri-people advocacy, aimed at advancing peoples’ right to self-determination and building communities of peace.

Our regional state colleges, through the Mindanao Association of State Colleges and Universities Foundation (MASCUF), remain engaged in advancing the culture of peace, reducing conflict and addressing the oppression of key disadvantaged sectors. Our allies in the Visayas have begun to open public awareness to greater participation in Mindanao’s peace process, in part through the Bisayang Dako Alang sa Kalinaw (BISDAK) forum which undertakes innovative activities to present the cause of peace in Mindanao to the public. Lastly, we continue to partner with the Manila-based Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN), openly supportive of our efforts at keeping Mindanao’s plight and struggle front and center, before a national audience.

Further anchoring and enriching these efforts are the three (3) support institutions that primarily perform secretariat functions for the MPW. The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) works with the MPW as it has long prioritized the Bangsamoro with their development assistance. The Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN) Mindanaw, supports the MPW as a continuing expression of its mission to empower local communities through the creative use of the law and legal resources. Lastly, the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) as lead sesretariat, manifests its south-south and people-to-people dialogue discourse by anchoring MPW’s advocacies.

We now offer all these threads, nourished and linked to Mindanao’s history, experience, knowledge and wisdom, as well as our networks’ unflagging support towards defining a lasting peace and promised future for Mindanao. We at MPW behold a future where we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder, sharing a common burden, trekking a common path and projecting our vision of tomorrow. We understand the great burden confronting both panels and the likely trepidation about mistakes, misunderstandings, or errors in judgment that may come back to haunt us all. Yet seeing the greater potential before us, we encourage both panels to continue to talk, to negotiate and argue if they must. For we believe the path we are now on promises the best for Mindanao’s present and future. Let the work move us forward as we undertake the final steps toward unfurling Mindanao’s own tapestry of peace.