06/14/2018, 11.57
PHILIPPINES
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Dialogue and respect for a 'just and lasting' peace in Mindanao

The People's Peace Network document indicates the guidelines for a real reconciliation process, in a territory devastated by armed conflicts. Armed groups and authorities are invited "to mutual respect, to sincere dialogue and to truthful negotiations".

Mindanao (AsiaNews) - "The only way to peace is peace!". This is the appeal launched by the People's Peace Network (Ppn), that brings together the various organizations committed to a "just and lasting peace" on the island of Mindanao. Religious leaders and representatives of civil society have drawn up the Peoples' Peace Agenda (Ppa), representing farmers, young people, women and tribals.

The document intends to indicate the guidelines for a real process of reconciliation in a territory devastated by armed conflicts. Presented at the People's Peace Summit on 29 November 2017, the PPA also received support from the governmental authorities and Marxist rebels of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (Ndfp).

The representatives of the PNP underline the main causes of violence and violations of human rights in Mindanao. They are:

- The long-delayed implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (Bbl), the law for the autonomy of the territory with an Islamic majority;

- the stalemate in the peace negotiations between the government of Manila and the Ndfp, reopened a few months after the election of President Rodrigo Duterte;

- the imposition of the Martial Law on the island, ordered by Duterte in response to Marawi's Islamist siege and extended until 31 December 2018 by the Congress;

- the intensification of military operations against alleged supporters or sympathizers of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA), NDPP organizations declared "terrorists" by the government. Estimated around 3 thousand units, the rebel forces have been guerrilla fighters for almost 50 years, in a conflict that has killed more than 40 thousand people.

"The search for peace is still the best choice - say the activists - and poses a great challenge for church and civil society organizations to work doubly hard to attain it. If only to save human lives and build a just and humane society, the quest for peace can never be abandoned".

 

The Peoples' Peace Agenda is a call "to mutual respect, to a sincere dialogue and to truthful negotiations". It invites all armed groups (army, NPA marxists and Muslims of the MILF and MNLF) to avoid armed clashes, property destruction and forced recruitment among the tribals; to respect the neutrality of schools and the "holiness" of churches and places of worship; to preserve the security and rights of civilians.

Instead, support for peace, development, justice and transparency initiatives is required by local and national authorities. They are urged to solve the injustices, past and present, that afflict the population: land disputes, extrajudicial killings (including the case of Father Tentorio), the lack of basic services and incentives to education.

"Together, let us build an atmosphere of peace and dialogue. This is our place, our home, we are all God’s children and we all dream for a peaceful Mindanao!" concludes the document.

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