AN ALL OUT WAR WITH THE MILF IS NOT THE ANSWER

Bishop Efraim Tendero, National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, speaks before the leaders of Bangsamoro, Lumad (Indigenous People), and Migrants during the 2nd National Solidarity Conference on Mindanao, held in Davao City last September 8-9, 2011.

PCEC STATEMENT ON THE OCTOBER 2011 BASILAN CRISIS

We grieve and condole from the depth of our hearts with the families and friends of those who were killed from all sides in Sitio Bakisung, Barangay Cambug, Municipality of Al Barka in Basilan last Tuesday, October 18, 2011.  In a battle that went from 5:30 AM up to 4:00 PM, about 31 government forces, and 6 of the Bangsamoro mujahideens, lost their lives in a clash that could have been avoided.

We hear the rage of our people as they cry for justice.  A few of our politicians are even calling for an all-out-war.  And we feel very sad as some of our media personalities have drumbeated war escalation perhaps borne out of their passionate response to the bloody and gruesome graphic images they have captured.

However, this is the time when we need to heed the exhortation of James, the brother of Jesus Christ, when he said, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NIV)

An all-out-war is not the answer to this crisis.  We need to listen, find out the truth, implement justice, and seek the peace of all and not just of some.

The Mindanao armed conflict, from the 1970s up to 2000, cost us US$2-3 billion in direct economic losses and 120,000 deaths.  The 2000 all-out-war under President Estrada displaced 2 million people.1  It is not wise to go back to the old ways and lose the gains of the peace negotiations in the past 14 years.

We need to move on.  All the forces on the ground, including our government and military leaders and the MILF are moving on to a new era of dealing with conflicts through peaceful means.

We praise God for the principled-leadership of His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III for upholding the primacy of the peace talks in the midst of calls for an all-out-war.  We laud his standing order to the AFP to “Pursue peace, not Moro rebels.”

We salute Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta, the Armed Forces Deputy Chief for Operations, as he resonates with the instruction of his Commander-In-Chief that there is no such a plan for an all-out-war, and that winning the peace is the top priority of our military.2

We respect the position of Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) who is strongly seeking justice for his soldiers within the existing peace mechanisms—like filing complaints before the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).3  Such intention is within the GPH doctrine on the primacy of the peace talks. This, in our opinion, is strategic thinking par excellence!

We also support the move of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for requesting immediately the International Monitoring Team (IMT)—peacekeeping officers from the European Union, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Brunei, and other respected countries—to conduct quickly an investigation on this clash and other ensuing armed resurgence.4

We affirm the stance of MILF CCCH Chairman Said Shiek who keeps in continuous direct contact with his government counterpart to avert any further armed escalation.

We call on those who profess to follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to listen to these words:
::  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mt. 5:9)
::  “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (Js. 3:18)

May God’s peace, blessings and wisdom be upon our government and military leaders, the MILF and all significant players on the ground as they navigate the nation through this crisis.

May God’s peace embrace our land, our people, and our culture—now, and in the years to come.

____________________

1 “The Mindanao Conflict in the Philippines: Roots, Costs, and Potential Peace Dividends,” Social Development Papers 24:2005, Conflict Prevention and Reconstruction, World Bank.

2. Philippine Daily Inquirer (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/80853/president-aquino%E2%80%99s-order-pursue-peace-not-moro-rebels)

3. MindaNews (http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/10/21/afp-milf-accuse-each-other-of-ceasefire-violation-in-basilan-clash/)

4. MindaNews (http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/10/22/milf-asks-imt-to-probe-basilan-clashes/)

Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2011/10/an-all-out-war-with-the-milf-is-not-the-answer/

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