11/19/2008, 00.00
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Peace "caravan" on the road in Mindanao

by Santosh Digal
From November 21-28, religious and social organizations are traveling through various locations on the archipelago. The "caravan for peace" is intended to sensitize the population, raise assistance, and call for an end to the conflict between the MILF and government forces. The initiative has the support of the Filipino bishops' conference, together with the presidential advisory council for the peace process.

Manila (AsiaNews) - A "caravan for peace" to support the population of Mindanao and call for peace in the island torn by a civil war that has lasted almost 20 years.

It is called "the people’s caravan for peace and solidarity in Mindanao." The departure is scheduled for November 21, from Baguio City, north of Manila, and will conclude on the 28th, the second day of the week for peace in Mindanao, in Cotabato City in the south of the country.

The demonstration was organized by the Mindanao PeaceWeavers, an interreligious group led by Fr. Angel Calvo, a Claretian missionary, and has the support of the Filipino bishops' conference together with the presidential advisory office for the peace process.

The aim of those participating in the caravan is to make it understood that "war is not an option," and to debunk the common wisdom about the situation on the Filipino island. "Large segments of the settler community in Mindanao need to understand the root causes of the conflict in Mindanao," because "while most of our citizenry are basically for peace, some of them are drawn to the rhetoric of war in settling the Mindanao ‘problem’ once and for all."

The statement by which the organizers are promoting the initiative issues an appeal for the "pressing need of succor and solidarity for the suffering peoples of Mindanao, the evacuees, victims, Moro, Lumad (indigenous people), settlers alike."

The caravan, which in Tagalog has been dubbed "Duyog Mindanao" (accompanying Mindanao), will be guided by representatives of civil society, of the religious and the academic world. The planned itinerary will pass through various locations on the Archipelago: Pangasinan, San Fernando in Pampanga, Malolos in Bulacan, Quezon City Memorial Circle, Maharlika Village in Taguig, Batangas City, Calapan in Mindoro, Roxas City, Caticlan, Iloilo, Bacolod. At each location, moments of dialogue are planned in order to explain the aim of the initiative. Once it comes to Cagayan de Oro, the caravan will divide into two parts, in order to pass through the greatest number of locations before joining together again in Cotabato City on November 28.

Among participants in the initiative are numerous associations and organizations involved in the defense of human rights and in promoting peace in Mindanao. These include Waging Peace Philippines, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (Gppac-Sea), the Liga Filipina Policy Institute, Care for Mindanao, Bangsa Moro Peoples' Solidarity, Anak Mindanao, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and the Balay Rehabilitation Center.

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See also
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Peace between Moro rebels and government near
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