Please see the following letter regarding the Mindanao situation written by German friends. Mindanao has been used as a political bargaining chip – not least of all by GMA. Whether this is just another attempt to create a “crisis” situation to prolong her stay in power, or it is a situation where the MILF is calling the shots, innocent (and desperately impoverished) citizens are falling victim.
Please write to:
Chief Justice Reynato Puno
Supreme Court of the Philippines
Office of the Chief Justice
Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila
Fax no: +632-5268129
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
J.P. Laurel St.
San Miguel 1005
(correct address: Dear President)
Telefax: (00 632) 736 2495;
(00 632) 733 2107;
(00 632) 736 1010
Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process (OPAPP):
Hermogenes Esperon Jr,
7 / F Agustin I Building, Emerald Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Tel. Nos. 00636-07-01 to 06 and 636-3801 to 06
Fax No. 00638-2216
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs
Philippine Consulate General in New York
556 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10036 US
Fax: (212) 382-1146
I would like to express my serious concern regarding the current conflict in central Mindanao. Due to the recent outbreak of war in Mindanao more than 70,000 people had become internally displaced and rely on humanitarian aid and on the conflicting parties to stop fighting. I would like to appeal to all actors in the conflict, the MILF, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) as well as local politicians and other armed groups to refrain from the use of violent force and adhere to the agreed peace process.
The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) recently issued by the Supreme Court has stalled the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA). While I consider this a major setback in the quest for peace, I believe that the Supreme Court shouldn’t allow itself to become a stumbling block in resolving a political conflict that requires a political solution. I therefore appeal to the Supreme Court to lift the TRO and allow the peace process to move forward.
There is a need for continued consultation, transparent dialogue and information on the MOA, not only in Mindanao, but in all of the Philippines. The MOA is the result of 110 consultative sessions between the MILF and the GRP since 2004. It embodies important aspirations of the Bangsamoro struggle, such as the right to self-determination as well as the commitment of the government to address the historic inequalities at the root of the conflict.
It is vital that these aspirations will not be used for any other agenda and that the accomplishments of the peace process will be honoured. Particularly those politicians who may feel threatened by the changes the MOA will bring about should be reminded of the fundamental right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people as recognized under international law. The GRP should clearly intervene here to prevent further escalation. Inflammatory propaganda and militarisation on behalf of those who may loose from the MOA must not poison the relationship between the people of Mindanao.
With regard to current discussions on a charter change in connection to the MOA, I would like to point out that while there will indeed be a need for comprehensive legislative action with the signing of the MOA, it is premature to pursue these changes before the presidential election in 2010. According to the timeframe of the MOA it will take the parties twelve (12) months after the signing to proceed with the plebiscite and a total of fifteen (15) months to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact. Given this timeframe there won’t be enough time to undertake charter changes via the GRP-MILF talks.
I appeal to all actors in the conflict to listen to the peaceful voices of the civilians and refugees in Mindanao – the Bangsamoro people, indigenous people and migrant settlers alike and to address the grievances at the root of the conflict.