The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) appealed to the government to continue the peace process because returning to war is “counterproductive.”
MILF Vice Chairperson Ghadzali Jaafar said the problem in Mindanao can only be resolved through the peace process and not through an all-out war.
“If the peace process is abandoned, we will fail in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Mindanao,” Jaafar said when interviewed at the MILF camp in Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
He noted that if calls for war prevail, the suffering of the people in Mindanao will continue.
Since the 1970s, at least 120,000 people, many of them civilians, were killed because of the Mindanao conflict. Over two million people were displaced.
“The MILF believes that the best way to resolve the problem of the Bagsamoro is through the peace process because this is the most civilized way to do it,” Jaafar stressed.
Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao (ARMM) also urged the government and the MILF not to abandon the peace process.
“Let us not give up. Let us continue working for an enduring peace in Mindanao, let us continue the peace process,” he said.
The governor said the Mamasapano incident that killed 44 police commandos should not discourage lawmakers from supporting the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the eventual establishment of a Bangsamoro government.
The peace process, he said, provides the most viable option to end decades of conflict, displacement and underdevelopment in parts of Mindanao.
“Let us not allow the incident to undermine the years of rigorous peace negotiations that both government and MILF worked hard on,” Hataman said.
Jaafar, on the other hand, appealed for support from political leaders, church leaders, civil-society organizations and the public to support the call of the MILF to pursue a peaceful resolution to the Mindanao problem.
The Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the body that monitors the progress of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro also called for the continuance of the peace process.
“The recent tragic events at Mamasapano have underlined yet again the human costs of conflict” TPMT Chairperson Alistair MacDonald said during a press briefing held for the release of their second annual Public Report on February 13.
“Pending the results of the various investigations [of the Mamasapano incident], it would be premature to comment substantively on these events. But it will be essential to protect the future while providing just remedies for the past—and that future can only prosper in the context of a widespread and lasting peace,” he added.
According to MacDonald, while public attention is focused on the tragedy, the substantial progress made in the peace process for 2014 should not be overlooked.
Established in 2013, the TPMT monitors the implementation of the peace agreement between the MILF and the government. Joining MacDonald, a former European Union ambassador to the Philippines, in the TPMT are Husseyin Oruc of Human Rights and Freedoms Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH); Karen Tanada, executive director of the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI); Rahib Kudto of UNYPAD Philippines; and Steven Rood, country representative of The Asia Foundation.
He said that while it is necessary for both parties to restore trust in the peace process, he remains confident that the government and MILF will be able to find lasting solutions to the armed conflict.
“Ending decades of violent conflict cannot be accomplished overnight. The best guarantees of success are the continuing commitment to peace of both parties, at the highest level, the massive engagement of Congress and the public in deliberating on the BBL, and the underlying hopes of the people of Mindanao that their children should be able to grow and prosper in a peaceful and just society,” he added.