15-16 October 2016. The past weekend was critical to the unified actions of various civil society organizations (CSOs) working together for justice and peace in the Philippines. 35 key CSO leaders across the country were convened in a stock taking and direction-setting exercise. This event was hosted by the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW), in coordination with the All-Out-Peace and its allied peace partners.
Here’s our rationale for this activity:
This two-day coming together of key peace networks who have been accompanying the peace process for many years, will virtually be the first formal meeting by CSOs involved in the peace front under this new dispensation. As we re-calibrated our strategies and programs in the early months of the Duterte Administration in response to the positive promise and signals on the peace front, we are also however witness to the unfolding Change Agenda the President is pushing — specifically, his punitive campaign of the war-on-drugs-anti corruption-criminality thrust. The aftermath of this ongoing crusade has both shocked and awed us following perceived overkill of police operations heeding the government’s call, including those instigated by drug syndicates and vigilante-led killings.
Undeniably, President Duterte had raised the bar of instituting swift, at times, daring reforms: opened his Cabinet to progressive and Left leaders, resumed the stalled GRP-NDFP peace talks instantaneously, and redefined a new peace roadmap for the Bangsamoro with the Federalism promise in tow. But the war dance he has waged against narco politics/criminals and his bashing of the neo-liberalist foreign policy espoused by previous administrations have had a ‘chilling effect’ amidst the daily cries of widows and orphans, long queues of thousands of poor drug offenders, and a deafening silence–if not rabid support–from most of the Filipino people on these hundred days of bloody mayhem and impunity.
In this context, peace advocates, coming from various networks and formations, will convene to understand the lay of the land as regards the Change Agenda shaping the initial Roadmap on Governance and Peace of the Duterte Administration to
better our engagement and our peace programming.
1. Collectively assess and (re)define our present Change Agenda in a transitioning Mindanao, Philippines
2. Strategize the role of CSOs and its engagement with the Duterte Administration and its 6-year Peace Roadmap
3. Generate a ‘Take Action’ consensus towards a collaborative advocacy on immediate, and burning issue(s) with strategic implications.
It’s a delight to see that the facilitator during the most difficult session of this two-day meeting was Deng Giguiento, a graduate of the Summer Peace Institute (SPI) of the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU); she’s also an instructor at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI). Deng walked us through the conversation when we have to discuss the “non-negotiables” in our worldviews and value systems even as we face the issues of ‘extra-judicial killings’, ‘deaths under investigation’, and all other forms of violence.
As representatives of justice-and-peace advocacy movements from various sectors and groups of the Philippine society — some from armed revolutionary groups, some from non-violent advocacy groups — we were able to hold hands together as one peace movement facing together this difficult segment of our journey as a people.
We departed from this gathering with a new sense of unity as All-Out Peace Network.
Thank you for your prayers.