We welcome the resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), set to begin Monday in Kuala Lumpur.
The peace talks are a sign that both groups are now willing to move forward after the deadly series of clashes that occurred between government forces and the separatist group starting October this year.
Nobody wins when Filipinos kill fellow Filipinos, and the whole country continues to grieve for all the losses incurred by both sides. Pilipino silang lahat, at bawat isa sa mga namatay ay may mga naiwang pamilya at mahal sa buhay. While nothing will be able to take back the lives of these slain men, we can ensure that their deaths will not be in vain by continuing to push for genuine peace. That is the only way forward.
Four decades of war has cost us at least a hundred billion pesos, and the atrocities made to our people have been unspeakable. We need to end this war within this generation for our country to finally take off, but the framework has to be clear and the loopholes must be addressed for the peace process to move forward. We urge both sides of the panel to be clear about the terms of the peace process and for them to abide by these terms. We also urge that those who will disregard these terms be held accountable under the full force of the law.
We also hope that, from here on, peace will be our primary agenda in the South. History has taught us that a military solution in Mindanao has failed time and time again. We must look at the Ramos administration’s aggressive peace initiatives in the 90s that helped create the window of opportunity that laid down the foundation for economic progress in cities like GenSan (General Santos), Cagayan de Oro, and Davao. In the Mindanao experience, war has brought only misery while aggressive peace initiatives have brought real, tangible progress and development in these areas.