Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) Statement on the Spate of Bombings in Mindanao

We, members of the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW), condemn in the strongest possible terms, the August 5 car-bombing along Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato City. This despicable act of terror has thus far claimed nine lives including two innocent children. This craven act has further left scores wounded and scarred the collective psyche of the people of Cotabato, Mindanao and peace advocates around the world.

In the aftermath of the blast we hear of the scenarios bruited about in its wake. For some, this was a vendetta that came to a boil and played on the historical instability of the region to mask its criminal intent. Others saw a continuation of a terrorist campaign linked to the earlier bombing in Cagayan de Oro. A number of others saw it as a last-ditch attempt to derail the nascent Bangsamoro peace agreement, spoiling for a chance to set back years of hope-filled negotiations and peace-building. Still others saw it as an act of provocation, timed during Ramadan to sully the holiest month of the Islamic calendar with blood and carnage and feed the call for revenge and retribution.

Regardless of whatever scenario, it is difficult for us Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) to grasp any justification for such an indiscriminate and cowardly attack. It is horrifying for us to think any person or group capable of the deliberate and conscious act of placing a high-velocity explosive device in the thick of public traffic and then detonating it during the afternoon rush hour. Such an act speaks of a premeditated, unconscionable and heartless strike intent on victimizing the innocent and multiplying the sense of fear and terror for those who survive. To further think that such persons exist in our midst truly shakes our common trust and confidence in our fellow men. It further gives us pause about the beliefs we cherish and which motivates us in the work we do.

And as human beings and peace advocates driven and engaged under the Mindanao PeaceWeavers’ banner, we reiterate our strongest condemnation of this brazen act of terrorism in Cotabato City where most of the victims were innocent Muslim civilians observing the holy month of Ramadhan; we call for the immediate and impartial investigation so that justice will be afforded to all the victims and their kins; we call on all authorities concerned (local government units, Philippine National Police, and the rest of the members of the security sector) to address the underlying security issues and enforce risks mitigation as a result of the spate of bombings in Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato City, Midsayap in North Cotabato and few areas in Maguindanao; we implore that reason and patience prevail, not hatred and cynicism dominate so that justice will be delivered the soonest. We call on our brothers and sisters in the Moro fronts to likewise assist in ferreting out the truth and bring to the bar of justice the perpetrators of these dastardly deeds.

Finally, MPW also believes in the resiliency and tenacity of the human spirit, the inclusivity that humanity calls for, the common desire for a shared peace that allows us to aspire for something greater and grander than what now lies before us. This is the wellspring of our work, the touchstone against which we measure our successes. While these recent blows may have shaken us, and the din proven deafening, we remain unbowed and resolute that in the end, the challenges to peace will be overcome.

Let us grieve and console one another while we exact accountability and fight for justice. But, in these trying times at hand, our call and sense of purpose remains, Onwards with Peace!