A neat slogan but peace will be difficult to obtain given that the two sides are really still in disagreement over some issues and there is opposition to the agreement from many on the government side and also on the MILF side. Several MILF commanders obviously acted to occupy territory and are now being driven out by the AFP. So far the conflict has not widened it seems. This is from Malaya.
Gloria: ‘All-out war, no; all-out peace, yes’
BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR
PRESIDENT Arroyo yesterday informed the Organization of Islamic Conference through the Kuwaiti government and businessmen that her administration is on a path of all-out peace in Mindanao and not all-out war.
Arroyo spoke at the inauguration of the Global Gateway Logistics at the Clark Freeport Zone attended by, among others, Kuwait Ambassador Doaud Salman Al-Sabah.
She said government forces in Mindanao are running only after members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who were responsible for the recent attacks in parts of North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Sarangani.
She said the recent rampage of the "lawless" MILF elements calls for a "resolute military and police action."
"I say to the Filipinos, to the world, to our Muslim brothers in the South, to the OIC through our Kuwaiti friends, there is no all-out war. What we are doing is to have all-out peace in Mindanao," she said.
The OIC facilitated the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front forged in 1996. Through Malaysia, it is also facilitates peace negotiations with the MILF.
Arroyo said her government has never deviated from its objective of attaining lasting peace and development in Mindanao. But she said "peace must be anchored on justice."
She said the government’s move to offer a P10 million reward each for MILF Commanders Ameril Umbra Kato and Bravo (Abdullah Macapaar) shows the government’s resolve to hasten the arrest and "neutralization of these criminals, so that justice can be achieved and we can move on with the peace process."
Kato and Bravo led the attacks in 15 barangays in North Cotabato, Iligan City and four towns in Lanao del Norte.
Arroyo said the targeted MILF personalities are historically the recalcitrant commanders who have created trouble before and during the peace negotiations. These commanders, she said, are expected by the government to cause trouble even after a peace agreement is forged.
"So the campaign against them is intended to remove the obstacles to the peace process... We wish for all insurgents to turn their swords into ploughshares, their arms to farms. We ask all sectors to be with us, including our brothers in the OIC," she said.
Arroyo has been asked by Catholic bishops to consult stakeholders in its peace negotiations with the MILF.
The need for wider consultations was brought to Arroyo’s attention by at least 13 bishops during a meeting Friday in Malacañang, Cotabato auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said over Church-run Radio Veritas.
He said they discussed means to involve Mindanao stakeholders "like lumads, civil societies, different sectors and communities" in drafting a peace agreement with the secessionist group.
Several bishops have questioned what they said was the lack of consultations in drafting the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain which, among others, seeks to expand the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by including 712 barangays in non-ARMM provinces.
The MOA is under question before the Supreme Court.
The government last week announced it is not signing the MOA in its current form because of the MILF attacks, among other reasons. It said it would review the agreement that would have been signed August 5 had the Supreme Court not issued a temporary restraining order.
MOA REVISION SOUGHT
Iligan Bishop Elenito Galido said the Mindanao bishops "strongly suggested" a revision of the MOA.
Bagaforo said the meeting was initiated by the Mindanao prelates led by Tandag (Surigao del Sur) Archbishop Nereo Odchimar.
Tuguegarao (Cagayan) Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan and Bayombong (Nueva Vizcaya) Bishop Ramon Villena, were also present in the meeting that lasted four hours.
Bagaforo said the bishops also formally proposed to Arroyo the need to replace the members of the government peace panel.
He said the President told them she will look "at it in light of a bigger, wider participation of Mindanao stakeholders."
Bagaforo said the peace panel massively failed in its responsibility of conducting the stakeholders.
Sen. Richard Gordon said the government could not proceed striking a peace deal with the MILF without pushing for the development of the ARMM.
"The peace process is just like a marriage – we have to continue strengthening the peace. And peace is strengthened when you see it being beneficial to the public, if there is education, if there’s economic development; if there’s security, consistency and transparency in everything that will happen when the peace process starts," he said.
Gordon, who is among those opposing the MOA, said those who would be affected should be made to understand what will happen to them if a peace accord is signed. – With Gerard Naval and Dennis Gadil