We members of civil society organizations and peace advocacy groups in Mindanao announces the formation of the Change for Peace (C4P) a grassroots campaign whose objective is to develop and strengthen a broad grassroots peace constituency who would monitor developments in the ongoing GPH-MILF peace negotiations, help the public to form an informed and principled stand on the issues concerning the negotiations, and organize grassroots actions and activities that supports the realization of an agreement that will finally conclude the Bangsamoro conflict through a peaceful negotiated political settlement.
While we are encourage by the positive pronouncements both on the side of the government and the MILF that a peace agreement can be achieved within the time period of this current administration we feel that there is still a lot to be done in terms of implementing measurable and realizable actions that will put in concrete terms the steps that would be taken to address the challenges and possible pitfalls facing the negotiation process.
It is in this context that we in C4P have formed a GPH-MILF Peace Talks Watch. The rationale for its formation lies in the realization that each and every one of us are stakeholders to peace in Mindanao and us such we also bear responsibility for ensuring that the current peace negotiations will not be held hostage or derailed by the machinations of spoilers to the peace talks, and by hardline partisan political sentiments of some groups. We need only to recall the events that lead to the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) debacle to stress the importance of building a grassroots constituency is to the success of any peace negotiation.
Concretely the Peace Talks Watch campaign aims to ensure that:
- Grassroots communities will not be misled by disinformation or unfounded speculations about the agenda of the talks and its processes by institutionalizing grassroots dialogues, community discussions, and developing information materials that will popularize the issues that are discussed by the GPH-MILF panels;
- Both the GPH-MILF panels are reminded of their commitment to resolve the talks within the specified timeframe that they have set by organizing peace talks watch volunteers that will monitor and actively engage the process through solidarity actions that addresses potential stumbling blocks to the negotiations;
- An active lobby will be conducted to influence legislators, and government officials to support the peace talks and develop a direct link between Congress and key government agencies to the peace panel and the outcome of the negotiations.
We also feel the urgent necessity of launching this Peace Talks Watch because in the end it is us, the people who will have to contend with the failure of the negotiations. It is our communities that will be bombed, our families who will be displaced, our properties that will be destroyed, and our future that will put in jeopardy. It is for this reason that we see the need to be vigilant, to be pro-active, and to be concerned about the outcome of the peace talks for in the final analysis what is at stake is the human capital that we have given – our tears, our joys, our aspirations – to build a community, a Mindanao where there is finally peace based on justice, and where there is unity based on the recognition of the right of its peoples to self-determination.
Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP)
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
Civil Society Organizations-Forum for Peace (CSO-FP)
United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD)
Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace (BCJP)