PREVENT IGNORANCE AND PREJUDICE FROM SPOILING THE PEACE PROCESS

We, at United Youth of the Philippines-Women, express our earnest gratitude to the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for nurturing a calm response to Southeast Asia’s longest running internal conflict. It seems that we are now just 14 steps away from our vision of a society where justice and peace are the pillars of development and good governance.

But to reiterate, the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is just the foundation of a comprehensive reconstruction program conceived for our region. To anticipate a durable solution to the Bangsamoro Question, it is imperative that the Filipino people, regardless of religion and ethnicity, own and guard the peace process against spoilers and their scare tactics that might ruin again what has been established in the negotiating table. Let us depart from the cultural drama and establish an inter-faith and inter-cultural understanding to reclaim our linkage as one nation.

While it is verifiable that there is an overwhelming support on the peace process, there is also diversity and discrepancy on public perception about the conflict and the current peace process. It is therefore the urgent task of civil society organizations and peace advocates of putting forth a common narrative that will be disseminated to all possible venues, from grassroots to national and international, and will complement the apparent inadequate awareness to the roots of the conflict and the tangible solutions to it. Only with a common understanding about the issue at hand can we bring into the fold all stakeholders and bystanders and put up a united front that will advocate the thorough steps of peace building in Muslim Mindanao.

To the Philippine Government and to the Central Committee of the MILF, we fervently hope that both parties will be undaunted in their commitment to bring justice, peace, and development in our region even with the imminent threat of unscrupulous elements fueling ignorance and prejudice and banking on vicious military dispute from both parties to advance their egotistical interest to the expense of the Filipino community.

To other Moro armed groups, let the Framework Agreement demonstrate its capacity to provide an enduring solution to the grievances of the Bangsamoro people and to provide just peace in Mindanao. To the political leaders of our country, let us dispose our skepticism and work toward enhancing the minutiae of the whole peace process.

To all our Muslim, Christian, and Lumad brothers and sisters, let us espouse the validity of a comprehensive peace agreement in our region. Let us all promote harmony and uphold the integrity of our Filipino nation.

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