‘We will stay the course of peace’ as best option
It was with profound shock and sorrow that we followed the news reports on the Mamasapano incident in Maguindanao. Our hearts bled for the needless loss of Filipino lives—a tragedy brought upon us by a series of decisions, events, judgment calls, etc. that may never be fully, publicly known. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who’ve lost their loved ones, and bear with those now undeservedly suffering in the aftermath of that tragedy. We understand the grief, rancor and rage now simmering in the hearts of many. We are aware of and empathize with these feelings. Despite this, we will stay the course of peace, for it remains our best recourse.
The incident underscores the ease with which some events can still quickly escalate into confrontation and bloodshed, despite the mechanisms put in place to counter them. We can only surmise how this singular event impacts the ongoing peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). We have long valued the sizable investments made through the years by both parties and their supporters in building mutual confidence and trust, coupled with mutually agreed-upon processes and mechanisms. Through those years, these systems have borne up well, granted they are allowed to fully function. Thus, we remain steadfast in our call for respecting and trusting the mechanisms and processes in place, and staying the course of peace.
The most regrettable Mamasapano clash also shows us that much remains to be done on our path to genuine peace. Our common cause remains challenged in the countryside, in the halls of Congress and more so in the minds and hearts of many Filipinos. But this is the reality we must address if we seek a permanent solution to the so-called Moro question.
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), while imperfect and in need of enhancement, is the best answer we have before us. It is a collective work in progress, anchored on 40 years of conflict, negotiations and lessons learned at a very high cost to many of us. It exemplifies our best expression of engagement, involvement, investment and discourse on the Bangsamoro. The Mamasapano incident shows us that we cannot yet rest and entrust the peace process to a roadmap without continuing to be engaged, involved and aware of the travails and possibilities that dot and crisscross our journey to peace.
In these very trying times, we maintain our call for utmost sobriety.
We salute the immediate response of the joint ceasefire and coordinating mechanisms of the government and the MILF to this incident. We pray and ask all parties to sustain this.
Let us address the emergent issues of Mamasapano accurately and through proper channels. Let us continue to engage in discourse and discernment. Let us continue working together for a more all-encompassing solution to the issues at hand.
Let us continue to engage in the BBL and the Bangsamoro question. Let us not be derailed by those who will pounce on this tragedy to derail, if not scuttle, the peace process.
Let us not be defined by the conflicts that would pull us apart but rather by the constancy of our course of peace.
—LYNDEE A. PRIETO, Initiatives for International Dialogue, [email protected]
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