Tag: gph

Aug 20 2014

OUR SUPPORT FOR THE BANGSAMORO IS BASED ON A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE

cso-bbl-gph2014

Representatives of civil society organizations deliver a statement of support to the respective chairpersons of the GPH and MILF Peace Panels. 04 August 2014, Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City. Photo Courtesy: OPAPP

The positive attitude of PeaceBuilders Community towards the Bangsamoro is energized by our peace theology.

While being supportive and actively praying for the success of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), our hope for the future goes beyond politically negotiated agreements and beyond legislative acts of governments.

As a community of Christian peace and reconciliation missionaries, our hope is ultimately based on a biblical view of the final justice and peace on earth when Christ, the Prince of Peace, will govern the world with genuine justice for all. In our worldview, the reality of this radical just-peace began with the first coming of Jesus Christ and will be completed in His Second Coming. In this sense, the context of our peacebuilding mission is in the intersection of the ‘already’ and of the ‘not yet.’

It is this biblical hope that motivates us to call on our fellow Christians to repent, seek forgiveness, and correct our unjust actions, as well as to forgive, and to reconcile with, the people who treated us unjustly—in the past.

It is also this spiritual hope that energizes us to strive for just-peace in the present—including our support and advocacy for the on-going peace process between the GPH and the MILF.

It is because of this hope that we say, “Peace is possible!” with much conviction and passion.

From this theological perspective—

  • We affirm our support for the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its four Annexes;
  • We continue to celebrate the signed 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, praying that it will be an effective instrument to attain just-peace in Mindanao and in the whole Philippines;
  • We express our appreciation for both the GPH and MILF Peace Panels who demonstrated their dedication and commitment to peace as the “only option” in this negotiation;
  • We applaud the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) for finally submitting a “mutually agreed draft” of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to the Office of the President;
  • We call on His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to certify the BBL before the Legislative Branch as an urgent bill;
  • We call on the Legislative Branch of our government to process this Bangsamoro Basic Law with careful, responsible examination and deliberation using the lenses of justice, righteousness, and peace for all;
  • We call on the People of the Philippines to look at this peace process through the reconciling eyes of their spiritual hearts and minds.

As we dream and work towards national peace and reconciliation, we resonate with the statement of the late Nelson Mandela: “In the end, reconciliation is a spiritual process, which requires more than just a legal framework. It has to happen in the hearts and minds of the people.”

And so, we pray for the completion of this peace process between the GPH and the MILF for the salaam-shalom of Mindanao and of the whole Philippines!

We deeply believe that peace is the will of God. May God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2014/08/20/our-support-for-the-bangsamoro-is-based-on-a-spiritual-perspective/

May 26 2013

THE ART OF TRANSCENDING OUR OWN CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

peace-cso01

National leaders of civil societies advocating for peace listen to Rey Casambre, an NDF consultant, as he shares his views on the current impasse in the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). The CSO leaders are seeking new ideas on how they can help GPH and NDF reach a negotiated political settlement and eventually end this longest ongoing revolutionary war in the world. 25 May 2013, Quezon City.

How do we transcend the cycles of violence that bewitch our human community while still living in them?

This is the basic question in John Paul Lederach’s book, The Moral Imagination (2005).  Moral refers to our mind’s capacity to create—to think, to reflect, and to act.  Imagination refers to our capacity to generate constructive processes that are rooted in the day-to-day challenges of conflict and violence, transcending destructive patterns, and to create, as in aesthetic conception, a previously non-existent reality.

Moral Imagination is “the capacity to imagine something rooted in the challenges of the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist. In reference to peacebuilding, this is the capacity to imagine and generate constructive responses and initiatives that, while rooted in the day-to-day challenges of violence, transcend and ultimately break the grips of those destructive patterns and cycles.”

 

ging-dann

I had the privilege of joining a group of peace advocates who met with Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. We listened to her perspectives on the current state of peace processes in the Philippines.

We need this Moral Imagination at this point when the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is again in an impasse.  PBCI sent Tala Bautista to a consultation regarding this issue.  She reports:

On 03 April, the Peace Panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) who is negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) held a forum in Davao City to “search for new approaches” as the talks reached again a dead end.  In the previous months, both the GPH and NDFP were optimistic in reaching an agreement on a special track (ST) which is different from the formal peace negotiations.  However, this ST did not work out.  Both the GPH and the NDFP are blaming each other for the “stymied” special track.  Now, the GPH is holding consultations with other stakeholders nationwide supposedly to generate input for new approaches which seeks to address “concerns both on the peace table and on the ground, especially among the communities most affected by the conflict,” as expressed from a statement of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process. 

The NDFP is not in favor of this move and its armed wing promised more offensives in the countryside.

Please join us in praying for the Shalom of Christ in our country.

I have seen such turning points and possibilities from the experience of people and communities who have been struggling with the reality of violence in small, but critical, areas in Mindanao and in other armed-conflicted villages in the Philippines.  In those areas, violence seems to have been regarded as the ‘norm’ for dealing with conflict.  Yet, from their immersion in the challenges of a violent reality, a number of people and communities have ventured down on unknown paths and have created or discovered a new reality that was previously non-existent.  These newly discovered or created realities transcend the abnormal reality of violence that has been previously regarded as the norm.

Transcending violence is forged by the capacity to generate, mobilize, and build moral imagination.  To rise above violence, Lederach suggests four disciplines that must be mobilized:

  • the capacity to imagine ourselves in a web of relationships that includes our enemies;
  • the ability to sustain a paradoxical curiosity that embraces complexity without reliance on dualistic polarity;
  • the fundamental belief in and pursuit of the creative act; and,
  • the acceptance of the inherent risk of stepping into the mystery of the unknown that lies beyond the far too familiar landscape of violence.

May the GPH and the NDFP negotiators, along with all the stakeholders in the search for peace in this land, be enlightened with a Moral Imagination and transcend our own national cycle of violence.

 

dann-alex-iye

I was with USec Alex Padilla (Chair, GPH Panel Negotiating with the NDF) and USec Miriam Coronel Ferrer (Chair, GPH Panel Negotiating with MILF), listening to their respective views on the peace processes in the Philippines during an informal dinner meeting in Quezon City last May 24, 2013. I’m praying for the embrace of Moral Imagination to all the parties involved–GPH, NDFP, CSOs–in the peace processes in our beautiful land. May we all reach out to those we fear; touch the heart of complexity; imagine beyond what is seen; and, risk vulnerability one step at a time.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/05/26/the-art-of-transcending-our-own-cycle-of-violence/

May 08 2013

GOD’S BLESSINGS ARE USUALLY WRAPPED IN LIFE’S CHALLENGES

image

I’m excited!

God’s new set of blessings are indeed wrapped in various degrees of challenges and seeming disappointments. And God is gracious and merciful! The gifts are being unwrapped before my amazed eyes from fear to courage, from sorrows to joy, from want to abundance, from crises to celebration!

  • I was fearful because my field worker, who was serving one of the poorest communities among the Typhoon Pablo devastated areas, was ‘red-tagged’ by an army lieutenant. The army general of the whole division, along with his colonels, came from their headquarters (about two hours drive) to Davao City to listen to my staff and to assure us that they welcome what we’re doing in those critical areas. Early this week, we got confirmation that the general and his staff would talk with us again. We feel encouraged that our non-partisan and active non-violent approach to peacebuilding would continue.
  • I was sad that some powerful and corrupt local government officials seem to be jeopardizing our dream of helping a tribal village. But my team and I are now encouraged that a representative of a national agency affirmed their support to Joji’s vision. Yesterday, the senior officials of this national agency accompanied Joji and our field operations leader to the site of the project to continue building the structures based on our vision. Last night, they reported what we felt God is actually doing through honest government officials. We ended the day with so much joy in our hearts!
  • Every payday, Joji and I are prompted to pray for funds. Our staff members have to pay their bills and some of them have families to feed. We also have to maintain our peacebuilding operations based on Joji’s financial philosophy: Low cost, high impact. This morning, I got notifications that our partners have deposited some funds in PBCI bank account just in time to continue our operations for this quarter. For us, this is abundance!
  • Along with some of my fellow peacebuilders from various civil society organizations, I feel our nation is facing a crisis due to the breakdown of the talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). Jose Maria Sison, NDF’s chief consultant, already warned of increased attacks from their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). I still hope, by faith, that there will be a peaceful resolution to this protracted political and military conflict between the GPH and the NDF. With many people praying, with many people working together for peace, with God’s grace and mercy on our land, I envision the day when we are celebrating peace and reconciliation between the GPH and the NDF. I envision the day when the so-called left wing of our land, and the right wing of our land, will both realize that they are needed as two wings of the same dove of peace! What a celebration that would be!

Life is really great!

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/05/08/gods-blessings-are-usually-wrapped-in-lifes-challenges/

Aug 05 2011

PHILIPPINE EVANGELICALS LAUD AQUINO-MURAD MEETING

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ibrahim and Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III meet informally in Tokyo, Japan Thursday evening August 04, 2011. (Photo by: Jay Morales/ Malacanang Photo Bureau).

It’€™s the first time that a Philippine president meets with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair since the negotiations commenced 14 years ago. Both discussed possible approaches in moving the peace process forward.

Accompanying the President in the informal meeting were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Budget and Management Sec. Florencio Abad, Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Government of the Philippines (GPH) Peace Panel Chair Marvic Leonen.

Murad, on the other hand, was joined by some members of the MILF Central Committee, the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel and some base commanders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

 

OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE COUNCIL OF EVANGELICAL CHURCHES

 

THE AQUINO-MURAD MEETING IN JAPAN: A POSITIVE MOVE TOWARDS PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

 

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) — the largest network of Christian denominations, para-church organizations and local churches nationwide — views the meeting of President Benigno Aquino III and Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim with respect and regards it as a positive move towards peace and reconciliation.

 

The informal talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was held last Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at around 8:45 PM at the Ana Crowne Hotel in Narita, a suburb of Tokyo City, Japan.

 

In this historic meeting, President Aquino has demonstrated his sincerity and commitment to lead this country forward in order to achieve a negotiated political settlement with the Moro people.  We commend his hands-on approach to the Peace Process.  Such an approach is a needed leadership quality as we, the whole Filipino people, seek an equitable and sustainable peace in southern Philippines.

 

We call on the members of the PCEC, along with the larger Body of Jesus Christ in this land, to pray for wisdom for both President Aquino and Chairman Murad as they have agreed to “fast track” the GPH-MILF peace negotiation.  Pray that both the GPH and the MILF leadership would carefully consult their respective constituencies as they seek the prompt completion of a negotiated political resolution to the GPH-MILF conflict.

 

We call on all peace-loving Christians and Muslims to be prayerfully vigilant against those “spoilers” of peace, many of whom are protecting their interests and are the financial and political beneficiaries of the armed conflicts in Mindanao.  Pray that their hearts and minds would be transformed and that their interests would be re-aligned towards genuine justice and peace.

 

We call on all the people in the Philippines to pray for genuine justice and peace in our beloved land, not just for some, but also for all. Pray that we, Filipinos would realize and see that armed conflicts are merely symptoms of the root problems: land distribution, historical injustice, corruption, abuse of power, apathy and other social sins—from which we all must turn away.

 

We call on both the GPH and MILF peace panels to consider our voice, through the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission, as we offer our active participation in giving our input to the on-going negotiation between the GPH and the MILF.

 

Let us follow the call of Jesus who said: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

 

May we all experience genuine shalom-salam within us and around us!

 

July 10,2011

For more information, contact: Bishop Efraim M. Tendero, PCEC National Director, telephone 9131655-57 or email: info@pceconline.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/08/05/philippine-evangelicals-laud-aquino-murad-meeting/

Jun 10 2011

TO THE GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARIES: GO BACK TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE

Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, GPH; Luis Jalandoni, Peace Panel Chairman, NDFP

We were dancing! We were celebrating the fact that last February 15-21, 2011, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) resumed their peace talks.

But last June 02, 2011,  Luis Jalandoni, Peace Panel Chairman of NDFP, proposed the postponement of their talks with GPH. The said talks is scheduled this month. Jalandoni communicated this in a letter addressed to GPH Peace Panel Chairman Alexander Padilla.

Jalandoni wants Padilla to free two political prisoners who are also consultants of the NDFP — Allan Jazmines and Tirso Alcantara.  The NDFP claims these two persons to be covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

GPH said that the NDFP should not use the formal talks to secure the release of Jazmines and Alcantara. This GPH position was communicated through the Department of National Defense.

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said:

I would like to refer to the statements made in January of this year, of government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla, after the preliminary negotiations between the government and the NDFP. I quote negotiator Padilla, who said in his statement that “the government agreed to work, on best effort basis, for the release of NDFP consultants and personalities who are qualified under the JASIG so they may meaningfully participate in the negotiations.”

“The resumption of the formal negotiations with the NDFP will focus on the remaining substantive agenda on: socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. To avoid unwarranted disruptions of the negotiations, the Parties also established sidetable mechanisms to review and address procedural and non-substantive issues such as JASIG implementation, the release of alleged political prisoners (APOs), and confidence-building and goodwill measures.”

In line with this, the Government reiterates its sincerity and commitment to this process. In fact, in February of this year, before the start of the formal talks in Oslo, Norway, we facilitated provision of travel documents for NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio Economic Reform (RWC-SER) members Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis.

From the WebSite of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

In response, Fidel V. Agcaoili, spokesperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, said:

Ms. Teresita (Ging) Quinto-Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process of the Government of the Philippines (GPH, formerly designated as the GRP), is mistaken in claiming that the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is a mere side-table issue in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.

Ms. Ging Deles should be reminded that the primary purposes of the JASIG are “to facilitate the peace negotiations, create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.”

The JASIG is a very important agreement in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. It is what enables the Parties to directly engage in peace negotiations by providing safety and immunity guarantees to their respective negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who participate in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. It actually tests the sincerity and commitment of the Parties to the peace negotiations.

As stipulated in the Joint Communique signed by the Parties and witnessed by Ambassador Ture Lundh of the Royal Norwegian Government on 18 January 2011 in Oslo: “The GPH Panel agreed to work for the expeditious release of detained NDFP consultants and other JASIG protected persons in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and in the spirit of goodwill.”

The NDFP proposal to defer the talks of the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs SER) and the Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms (WGs PCR) scheduled in Oslo this month is meant to allow the GPH to comply with the JASIG.

From the WebSite of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines

 

As a concerned peace-building fieldworker, our hearts resonate with the statement of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform:

As a church-based peace advocate, we urge the two parties to remain focused on seeing the peace process through. We stand by our previous call that the two parties honor the previously signed agreements like The Hague Joint Declaration and all other bilateral agreements.

Specifically, we urge both parties to honor the terms of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) agreed upon in March 16, 1998 and in so far as practical measures in pursuit of this concern have been reiterated in the Oslo Joint Statement dated 21 February 2011.

We call on the two parties to follow the spirit of the JASIG as it is a crucial issue around the formal peace talks. Its faithful implementation enables the two parties to resume the negotiations in earnest. On the agenda of the formal peace talks are the social and economic reforms. This second substantive agenda is very central to the negotiations as it seeks solutions to address the roots of armed conflict that has afflicted our land for decades.

Finally, we reiterate our unceasing call for the people to support the peace negotiations. Primarily, our task is to be vigilant lest groups or acts that undermine our aspiration for a just and lasting peace take the upper hand. A just and peaceful country is possible if we remain focused on the road to peace. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations.

From the WebSite of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform

 

 

Thank you for continually praying for the peace in the Philippines.

May the Peace of God embrace our hearts, our minds, our communities, our people, our land, and our world!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/06/10/gph-and-ndfp-please-return-to-the-negotiating-table/

Mar 10 2011

EVANGELICALS ENGAGE ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARIES IN A PEACE DIALOGUE

 

09 MARCH 2011. COTABATO CITY—The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Peace Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held an inter-faith dialogue on the newly-resumed peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF.

Bishop Efraim Tendero (PCEC National Director), Bishop John Tayoto (Chairman, PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission), Bishop Genesis Udang (PCEC Mindanao), and Bishop Noel Pantoja (PCEC Board Member and General Director of the Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines) led the 78 evangelical participants—pastors, church leaders, and mission workers—representing various Christian groups in Mindanao.

The MILF Peace Panel were represented by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Attorney Michael Mastura, and Professor Abhoud Syed Lingga.  They were assisted by Mr. Mike Pasigan, Head of the Secretariat, MILF Peace Panel.

Bishop Tendero, in his opening remarks, referred to the biblical concept of the Image of God—the view that humanity, as originally designed by God’s creative will, though fallen into imperfection, is a reflection of God.  This biblical teaching, according to evangelical theology, is a healthy starting point for Christians to engage in these kinds of dialogue.  Because evangelical Christians believe that all human beings are created in the Image of God, we are all equal before the eyes of our Creator—the God of justice and peace.

The PCEC bishop also quoted a couple of Scripture passages emphasizing that peace and peacebuilding are crucial aspects of the Christian mandate because we follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace:

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, during his opening statement, quoted Prophet Muhammad in his letter to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai in the year 628 CE:

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far: We are with them.  Verily, I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah, I hold out against anything that displease them.  No compulsion is to be on them.  Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.  No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything to the Muslim’s houses… Their churches are to be respected…

“Insha Allah (God willing),” Iqbal publicly declared, “the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will also honor this commitment in the same way the Muslims before us had honored this covenant once the Bangsamoro state will be emplaced in some parts of Mindanao.”

Iqbal further explained their intention for having this dialogue with religious groups like the PCEC: “We, in the MILF Peace Panel, upon the expressed go-signal from our principal, get out of our way and conduct dialogues with church people, a very important sector in the society.  While there is separation of Church and State in the Philippines…the truth remains that the Church is a very powerful institution that holds the spiritual side of every Christian and, therefore, can influence their decisions, especially in relation to the cause of peace in Mindanao…  On our part, it is a matter of necessity that we must leave no stone unturned if only to make the cause of peace succeed.  This is also a sign of goodwill that we also reach out to groups other than those within the sphere of our responsibility…  There is also need for other people or groups like you to understand the MILF proposal, whether what we want for ourselves signals the demise of other groups, or whether our proposal is framed on extremism that defies logic and moderation.  Or we want to live and let others live in peace, love, and harmony.  Please examine our proposal very closely.”

Attorney Michael Mastura, explained the MILF draft on the comprehensive compact submitted to the GPH on January 27, 2010.  He summarized the highly technical document in a very passionate way: “We are not getting out of the country, but the unitary form of arrangement is a thing of the past for the Moros… There is really a need for a separate Bangsamoro state without severing ties with the Philippines.”

Professor Abhoud Syed Lingga, who is also Executive Director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), shared the concept of “a united country in the form of an asymmetrical state-substate relationship.”  He expressed his anxiety that GPH might not even consider this new political way of relating between two peoples.

During the question and answer period, majority of PCEC participants shared their concern about religious freedom, specifically the liberty of Christian minority to express their faith, under MILF governance in those parts of Mindanao where majority of the population are Muslims.  Bishop Genesis Udang of Cagayan de Oro City best represented this concern: “Would there be genuine religious freedom in a Bangsamoro substate?”

“Yes, there will be religious freedom,” Attorney Mastura answered.

Rev. Norman Naromal, Senior Pastor of Davao Bible Community Church, represented the second most asked question: “Would the Bangsamoro substate eventually lead to Bangsamoro independence?”

Attorney Mastura responded with another question: “What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing’s wrong with that,” replied Pastor Naromal, “we just want to see transparency where this peace negotiation between the GPH and the MILF is eventually going.”

After many more theological, historical, political, and economic discussions, the dialogue ended at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

The Mindanao People’s Caucus, led by its Secretary General, Attorney Mary Ann Arnado, organized this event.  Rev. Luis Daniel Pantoja, President and CEO of PeaceBuilders Community, facilitated the actual dialogue.

____________

:: MILF perspective of the story

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/03/10/pcec-engages-milf-in-a-peace-dialogue/