ASIA/PHILIPPINES - “Historic opportunities for peace in Mindanao” Missionaries and Civil Society at work

“Historic opportunities for peace in Mindanao” Missionaries and Civil Society at work.
Zamboanga City (Agenzia Fides) – There is an historic opportunity for an agreement of lasting peace in the South Philippines around the corner. To bring about this, missionaries, interreligious organisms, associations of civil society are intensifying the work of sensitization on all levels. This is what Fides Agency learnt from Fr. Angel Calvo, Claretian missionary in Mindanao for 40 years (South Philippines), engaged in the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace which today has organized a seminar in Zamboanga City, with representatives of the government and the Islamic guerilla movement MILF (“Moro Islamic Liberation Front”), to examine thoroughly the possibilities and consequences of the “Declaration of Principles” in 10 points, initiated by the government and the rebels during the past weeks (see other article of Fides 18/5/2012).

Father Calvo explains to Fides: “The peace process is going forward by leaps and bounds. The civil society is strongly supporting the efforts for peace and the team of negotiators. It is the right moment, it is necessary to get the local community involved as much as possible, by keeping themselves informed of the contents of the agreement and the efforts for peace. We want the Declarations of Principles to have the greatest popular support: that was not there in the past and caused all the previous agreements come to nothing”. The missionary priest remarks”, there has been a truce between the army and the rebels. Then an informal arrangement on principles and some hot points was reached, like the creation of a new political entity. Now there is a historical opportunity to sign a peace agreement, since President Benigno Aquino is very determined and the other side is favorable too. We need to take advantage of the moment: there is qualified support in the civil society and it is necessary to sign the agreement as soon as possible”.
Among the positive signs, the new “Internal Peace and Security Plan” IPSP, made known by the Philippian Armed Forces, will also actively collaborate for peace. The Philippian Armed Forces have also informed that they have started seminars to spread the advances of “peace building” and of the “pacific resolving of conflict” in the internal formation courses for the military, also in superior levels.
Meanwhile the Philippian Senate approved, a few days ago, a resolution which annuls the actual electoral lists in the Autonomous Muslim Region of Mindanao. The lists had been denounced as having been tampered with, false, fruit of corruption and political manuevres of local groups in order to get votes. The elections in the Region, planned for August 2012, will be postponed and it is not excluded that the definition of the “new political entity”, indicated in the Government Declaration – MILF, would replace it. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/5/2012)

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