ANTIQUE, Philippines – A network of social development organizations commiserate with the families of the 44 slain commandos of the Philippine National Police’s elite unit – the Special Action Force (SAF) after a bloody and tragic encounter with armed rebels on January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. (TIMELINE: Mamasapano clash)
The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) expressed their shock and sadness over the incident, in a press statement on January 31. The Philippine government is in negotiations with the MILF for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in both the Congress and Senate.
PMPI is a network of people’s organizations, non-governmental organizations, church and faith-based groups, and Misereor, an overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.
It is the result of a series of consultations among organizations supported by Misereor which discussed a model of cooperation, coordination and partnership between these Philippine social development organizations and Misereor.
However, as an organization working for peace and development, PMPI reaffirms their stand for a peaceful resolution of all conflicts and calls “on all parties to prevent further escalation of conflict and violence brought about by the encounter.”
“We call the attention of both panels and third party monitors to conduct an impartial and collaborative investigation, learn from the experience and take necessary sanctions if need,” the statement reads.
“We also urge the public to discourage disinformation and commenting from uninformed judgement until result of the investigation is released,” it added.
After some legislators like Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Joseph Victor Ejercito have publicly announced their withdrawal of their sponsorship or of the BBL, PMPI expresses their concern about this development and appeal to the lawmakers to reconsider their decision.
The organization is calling on the legislators not to contribute to possible stalling of the passage of the BBL in the legislative halls but instead to “let this incident challenge all people in the Congress and Senate to pass the BBL that will institutionalize a mechanism that will ensure that similar hostilities will not happen again in the future.”
Amidst the call from various sectors to call for an all-out war against the rebels, PMPI calls on everyone not to give up on peace.
“We urge each one for sobriety and to clear our heads from negative thoughts that this single incident forebodes of things to come and this will define the fate of BBL and our peace project in Mindanao,” they said.
“Our position is to pray that this incident shall not be a hindrance and a reason to block our pursuit for peace in the Bangsamoro territory. Let us pray that justice is given to the victims of this misencounter,” said Arcadio Sabella, PMPI Davao Region cluster point person.
Members of the network’s executive committee also shared their thoughts and sentiments regarding the incident.
“Whoever perpetuated for this incident to happen, they must be accountable. The investigating committee should be composed of members coming from different sectors to ensure its impartiality. We must opt to deliver an all-out justice for the victims and not an all-out war,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, one of the co-convenors and executive secretary of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action.
Moreover, Marilou R. Llavan, co-convenor for Visayas and Program Director of the Antique Human Development Program (AHDP) said, “We mourn as a country and as people. I feel the pain of the families of the 44 SAF members who died. May their deaths be not in vain and hoping that justice will prevail. Let us continue to support the initiative towards the attainment of a lasting peace in Mindanao.”
Just two weeks after the visit of His Holiness, Pope Francis, PMPI encourages all Filipinos to pray, reflect and recall the great words of the supreme pontiff, calling to cease all noises of weapons and to never again engage into war for “war always marks the failure of peace and the defeat of humanity.” – Rappler.com
Anthony Mondragon works as a Knowledge Management Coordinator at the Antique Federation of NGOs (AFON), Inc.
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