MEMBERS of the business community on Wednesday rejected calls for an all-out war against insurgents in Mindanao and instead called for “sobriety, courage and unity” in the face of threats to peace and development borne out of a deadly encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last month.
“In the midst of national mourning, certain sectors and political players have openly called for all-out war in Mindanao, branded our brother and sister Muslim Filipinos as terrorists, cast doubt on the Bangsamoro peace process and the sincerity of the negotiators, and vigorously demanded the resignation of the President [Benigno Aquino 3rd],” the group said.
“As members of the Philippine business community, we do not and will not support such calls. We call instead for sobriety, courage and unity,” it added.
Sentiments of various business groups were aired in a joint statement that also called for the reign of the rule of law to avoid conflict.
The signatories include the Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc., Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Mindanao Business Council and Philippine Business for Social Progress.
“We extend our sympathies to the families of our brother Muslim Filipinos and the innocent civilians who perished as a result of the tragic encounter at Mamasapano, Maguindanao. We join the Filipino people in our grief over this tragedy and in the call for truth and accountability over this incident,” they said.
The group noted that the country has achieved much under the stewardship of President Aquino.
“The administration’s credible campaign to restore integrity and good governance has gained traction and the respect not only of Philippine business but also the international investment community. Our conduct of international diplomacy and our insistence on the settlement of disputes through the rule of law have gained for our country unprecedented admiration and respect in the community of nations,” it said.
From being Asia’s perpetual laggard in the last decade, the group explained that the Philippines is now among the region’s fastest-growing countries and that “our rapidly expanding economy is now the envy of our neighbors.”
“Once ignored by international investors and tourists, we have re-established ourselves as an attractive business and leisure destination. From a people cynical and lethargic at our lack of progress and purpose, Filipinos are once again vigilant and assertive in national discourse,” the group pointed out.
It warned against the “political manipulation” of the “legitimate emotion and grief” over the Mamasapano incident.
“Rather than foster division among ourselves, we must channel our energies and efforts toward unity, reconciliation and a genuine search for the truth, fully insulated from selfish political agendas,” according to the group of businessmen, who also reaffirmed their support for the Aquino administration and the Bangsamoro peace process.
“There is no other answer to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people but total and lasting peace. It is in this context that we appeal to the Aquino administration and all parties involved to put the peace process back on track at the earliest time possible,” it said.
“Let us move forward with sobriety and courage as one united Filipino nation in search of justice and peace,” the group added.