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Updates from the ASEAN Peoples' Forum

Philippine peace groups call for solidarity and support for Mindanao peace process at APF 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, APRIL 24 – In a bid to generate broader regional solidarity for peace in Mindanao including support for the ongoing Bangsamoro peace process, peace groups from the Philippines launched a signature campaign at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from April 22-24.

Malaysia is the Chair of this year’s ASEAN summit and host of the ACSC/APF from April 21 to 24. The ACSC/APF is an annual conference that started in Malaysia 10 years ago that has now attracted thousands of civil society participants working on various issues in the region.

The ‘DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR AN ALL-OUT-PEACE CAMPAIGN IN THE PHILIPPINES AND SOLIDARITY FOR THE PEACE PROCESS’, campaign calls for the ‘passage of a just and inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is now pending at the Philippine Congress as an instrument that will start to address and rectify the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro and other inhabitants of Mindanao.’

‘With challenges now confronting the Mindanao peace process and the BBL in the Philippines, we believe that the support and solidarity of all peace-loving leaders and citizens of the region who see that a negotiated political settlement is the key in resolving the century-old problem in Mindanao is necessary. We have to salvage the peace process by showing that people not just in the Philippines but in the region are in solidarity and united for a just peace,’ said Gus Miclat, regional initiator of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA) and executive director of the regional non-government advocacy and solidarity organization, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

IID has spearheaded peace-building efforts in Mindanao and has been in the forefront of engaging the peace process in the Philippines including in other conflict prevention initiatives in the region. Miclat is also a member of the ACSC/APF 2015 Steering Committee representing regional organizations.

Miclat explained, ‘it is impossible for us to find a viable formula for peace in Mindanao if we base our judgments solely on biases and prejudices against the Moros and Muslims. If the House of Representatives and the Senate will pass the BBL, it should be on the premise of recognizing that the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of Mindanao have legitimate claims and therefore have the right to determine their own political future.’

The Declaration also said, Our continuing solidarity particularly for a just peace in the Bangsamoro in the south of the Philippines is our contribution to the process of building a peaceful and prosperous ASEAN community by 2015 and beyond. It is also our recognition of understanding the varying levels of social inequalities and injustices that characterize the social dynamics and human insecurities besetting the peoples of the region.’

Miclat added, ‘when people are united on one cause such as the very important issue of peace, this can move a nation forward faster. People’s solidarity is people power. With it, the impossible can be made possible.’

The Declaration likewise states ‘as we look forward to a genuinely dynamic, progressive and people-centered region aimed at building a vibrant and caring ASEAN community, we gather our voices and join our sisters and brothers in the Philippines, especially the peoples of Mindanao and the Bangsamoro in their quest for a just and lasting peace, genuine progress, freedom and social justice in Mindanao.’

Miclat concluded, ‘Peace as a struggle knows no skin color, religion, political belief or national banner because the only language it recognizes is the universal language of a just and humane society that is free from violence and social injustice. Peace has no time for hatred and division as it is too preoccupied building a nation and bridging differences among peoples. This is the basis of our regional solidarity for peace in Mindanao.’