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Jul 06 2008

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PEACE BUILDERS COMMUNITY LEADS CHRISTIAN LEADERS TO TALK WITH BOTH GRP AND MILF

COTABATO CITY, July 4-5, 2008. Peacebuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) led a group of Mindanao-based evangelical leaders to have peace talks with the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (6ID-PA) and the Peace Negotiating Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last July 4-5 in Central Mindanao. Bishop Efraim Tendero, National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), spoke in behalf of the pastors and other Christian leaders in these series of dialogue.

In a statement read before the government troops and the Moro rebels, Bishop Tendero expressed PCEC’s awareness of “the growing tension and sporadic skirmishes between government forces and MILF guerrillas in Central Mindanao.” The Bishop also cautioned the two conflicting parties that “what appears now as mere sporadic skirmishes could escalate into a full-blown war.” The Evangelical Christian delegation reiterated the PCEC’s call on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “to seek all means possible to break their current impasse, go back to the negotiating table, and sign a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.”

During the July 4th meeting with Maj. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, Commanding Officer of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the Christian leaders requested an update about the current armed encounters between them and the Moro rebels. Along with his ground commanders, Gen. Ferrer assured the Evangelical delegation that the government troops under his command upholds the primacy of the peace process and that their response to rebel attacks will be limited to an “active defense” approach—that is, they will effectively and efficiently defend their perimeter “but will not engage in hot pursuit.” The ground commanders also shared their views on peacebuilding and how they, as military leaders, contribute to the attainment of holistic peace.

The meeting with the government troops was concluded by a prayer led by Bishop Tendero.

In July 5th, the PBCI-led Christian leaders visited the office of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel at the MILF Headquarters in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan. During the dialogue between Bishop Tendero and Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the MILF Peace Panel, the background of the conflict between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Bangsamoro Muslims in Mindanao was revisited. Chairman Iqbal shared the Bangsamoro narrative while Bishop Tendero shared a Filipino Christian’s narrative. Atty. Michael Mastura, a member of the MILF Peace Panel, explained the current situation of the Peace Talks between the MILF and the GRP. He showed documentary and historical evidences why the MILF believes GRP is stalling the signing of a Peace Agreement.

The MILF Peace Panel also affirmed the primacy of the Peace Process and emphasized their desire to bring closure to this conflict that has been going on for centuries. This “closure” means the signing of a Peace Agreement between the GRP and the MILF that is hoped to be the beginning of a political resolution towards genuine just-peace in Mindanao.

The meeting with the MILF was concluded by an inter-faith prayer led by Ustadz Rahib Kudto and Bishop Efraim Tendero.

About the author

Information & Communications Team

The Information & Communications Team (ICT) is a group of volunteer writers and web designers at PeaceBuilders Community Incorporated (PBCI) who are working from different parts of the globe. Their task is to share PBCI's Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) activities — like, inclusive development initiatives, social entrepreneurial training, multiplication of effective peacebuilding workers, conflict transformation consulting, and restorative justice processes.

PBCI is a community of missionaries who are dreaming and working together for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land.

Permanent link to this article: http://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2008/07/peacebuilders-community-leads-christian-leaders-to-talk-with-both-grp-and-milf/

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