The Mindanao Commission on Women and the Mothers for Peace are deeply concerned about rising calls for an all-out-war in Mindanao following the clashes in Al-Barka, Basilan. We call on the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to use urgently the mechanism established by the two parties to deal with cases such as this. The International Monitoring Team (IMT) should immediately investigate the incident and make a report to the parties. Then the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities should be convened to determine how to de-escalate the violence. This mechanism was set up precisely for this type of incident. Let the government and the MILF use it!
We appeal to the media to be responsible in their reportage. There is power in every word and every image that you print or air. Media stories have the power to sow peace or to incite war. An irresponsible story could stoke anger and prejudice that could lead to louder and louder calls for war. War ravages communities, disrupts lives, and breaks families apart. We must, at all costs, prevent another war.
We fully support President Aquino’s commitment to peace despite incidents such as this.
We hope that all parties to the conflict overcome this latest challenge to the peace negotiations, by acting not as angry warriors out to seek revenge, but as peace-builders resolutely seeking peace.—IRENE M. SANTIAGO, founding chair, The Mindanao Commission on Women, 121 University Avenue, Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City
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