Today, as the country celebrates its 115th anniversary of its independence, we, from the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW), call on our leaders and fellow citizens to commemorate this milestone buttressed with lessons and insights from the peace imperatives of our continuing quest for nation-building as we ponder on the following:

Close to eight months have passed since the much celebrated signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In the afterglow of this accomplishment, detailing the next steps has again challenged both panels to reaffirm their resolve and redouble their efforts in now jointly defining the right path for peace and development of the Bangsamoro.

On the outside looking in with continuing and keen anticipation, civil society has applauded the positive developments and pronouncements that have followed since that historic day. The first meeting in March of the 15-member Transition Commission (TransCom) tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law is proving a seminal moment in the ongoing peace process. The reassurances coming from both parties that the Sabah imbroglio in April with Malaysia would have no bearing on the talks helped calm growing concerns to the contrary. The ongoing socioeconomic Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program, with P600 million already earmarked in added support, is a concrete indicator of translating the peace dividends this early. Other interim agreements (i.e. Annex on Transitional Arrangement and Modalities, Third Party Monitoring Team, Independent Commission on Policing) as products of consensus-building to buttress and safeguard the stages of the talks, have all remained important and contributory to the overall peace-building process.

But we are also reminded that these are all but elements of the overarching peace architecture that the GPH and MILF mutually envision from the outset and allowed the Bangsamoros, Filipinos, and the world to dream as possible. We must also be reminded that before any of these ideals become plausible, it remains paramount for the key parties involved to ensure that such a politically-negotiated settlement is made legally-binding and mutually-sealed in the form of a comprehensive agreement. Only then can we comfortably say that we are now headed towards an actual resolution of the Bangsamoro question.

We, the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW), remain cognizant of efforts of spoilers and other negative elements hard at work at crashing the peace process as the talks approach the end stages. MPW sees these stages as the crucial period for all of us to guard and protect the gains of the peace process. We at MPW, appeal to the principals of the peace negotiations, H.E. Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, together with their cohorts in the negotiating panels of both GPH and MILF, along with the rest of the friends of the peace process, to hold fast and heed the following concerns:

  • We respectfully invoke Pres. Aquino’s avowed social contract with the Filipino people, and we fully resonate and support that this be fulfilled with a final comprehensive agreement consensually signed the soonest. (Section 14 on Peace & Order… “From a disjointed, short-sighted Mindanao policy that merely reacts to events and incidents to one that seeks a broadly supported just peace and will redress decades of neglect of the Moro and other peoples of Mindanao”).
  • We humbly urge both the GPH and MILF peace panels to make public an interim update that will concretely clarify the status of the talks specifically on the Annexes of the FAB. Invoking the principle of subsidiarity, we politely remind the peace actors of their accountability to disabuse the public on the status and the substantive consensus already reached vis-a-vis the overall peace plan. Such measures will address counterproductive conjectures and speculations due to prolonged silence and lack of real-time information at this critical juncture of the talks. The case in point is how the seeming overly extended review period on the substantive proposals for consensus on the Annexes by government have created unnecessary tension which eventually can erode trust and support. Already there are rumblings on the ground that need to be doused with decisive positive action.
  • We appeal to the newly elected officials in the Senate and Congress to set as one of their urgent public agenda the legislation process of the Bangsamoro Basic Law as they convene themselves as the 16th Congress. We request our esteemed legislators to stay the course and deliver the policy changes the Bangsamoro and Mindanao crucially needs. Whereas the nation has given you the mandate – we humbly ask you to translate this legacy into peace dividends ushering in the dawn of the Bangsamoro.
  • Lastly, we are hopeful that President Aquino will mark his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 2013 with another historic milestone akin to a “coming of age” process of his own people in the Muslim region – the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro.

Though the years, MPW’s active citizenship mantra has been directed towards influencing an inclusive and transparent peace process. We believe that both the GPH and MILF remain committed to the task at hand. MPW also believes that as conditions evolve, particularly during this crucial transitional stage, we gently appeal to both panels on the following bare essentials: share more information with the public and not only to their respective partisans, broaden the consensus ground through continuing dialogue, and mutually translate confidence-building measures to preserve the climate of trust in the negotiations.

As history has long proven, knowledge is the most empowering investment any movement may bequeath its supporters, and for the ongoing peace process, that support is needed now towards the full realization of the Bangsamoro self-governance.

Para sa isang mapayapa at malayang Pilipinas :
Itaguyod ang usaping pangkapayapaan!
Suportahan ang sariling pagpasiya ng Bangsamoro!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Bangsamoro!