The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) condemns the terrorism and violence that has ripped through Marawi City these past days. We decry the needless loss of lives, the hostaging of innocents and the pillaging of property in the name of causes far removed from our shores and held foreign to our peoples’ expressed beliefs.

We express concern for the thousands now displaced and fleeing their homes in fear and insecurity, and call upon all agencies of government, humanitarian groups and civil society organizations to put their needs paramount now, in their hour of greatest need.

We implore the military, police and allied security forces to exercise their utmost restraint and professionalism, with due cognizance of human rights and humanity, in exercising their authority and powers in these extraordinary times now upon us.

We call on the President to rescind his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao as this strong arm response to resolve the intermittent terror by what the security echelons themselves consider as “localized police issues”, will not bring us forward in our desire for real peace, but will instead further pull us back into the dark morass of a wicked past that continues to gnaw on our collective consciousness. What is needed is a comprehensive and all-around response to the blight that has festered in our land: a strict implementation of the rule of law; addressing the roots of unpeace and extremism, such as combatting corruption and addressing the inequities in the lives of our people.

We call on all Filipinos to look upon this maelstorm in its entirety, with maturity and equanimity. Granted the opportunity, let us quickly learn from this unfolding tragedy and earnestly work towards formulating a united, concerted and substantive response moving forward, rather than use it to feed misperceptions and differences that continue to keep us further divided and apart.

With the President’s presumptive declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao now submitted to Congress, we need to hold fast to the guarantees and mechanisms of the Constitution, itself crafted in the wake of two decades of autocratic rule in our history. We express respect and adherence to the checks and balances emplaced, and pray that Congress asserts its independence and disauthorizes the Martial Law declaration that is now nevertheless constituted. We expect all offices, in all branches of government, to step up to their duty and toe their collective lines in keeping with the Constitution and the expressed rule of law.

We laud the cautionary messages put forward by advocates and key stakeholders involved and engaged in the ongoing peace processes with government. We take these to mean they value the peace dividends gained thus far and in staying the course, and seek no diminution in their contribution to ending decades without peace.

As we now face this further challenge to our identity and unity as a people and as a nation, let our response be driven by our concern for our fellowmen and not by our prejudice nor hate. Let our actions be guided by information, not manipulated by ignorance nor lies. Let our ultimate purpose be, not a perpetuation of conflict nor war, but of building true and lasting peace.