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MINCODE Statement on the Zamboanga Crisis

The Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) strongly denounces the ongoing stand-off of Zamboanga City and the humanitarian crisis that it has spawned. We deplore in the strongest terms possible, the violent actions – the use of military might or display of military might by both sides, indiscriminate firing, the taking of hostages, specially women and children, the over-all situation of “unpeace” that is causing so much harm to innocent civilians and entire communities. We call on both sides of the conflict – the MNLF and the government – to create a space where they can talk about peaceful and immediate resolution to the crisis. We join the rest of the concerned people in calling for an impartial investigation of the incident. We extend our sympathies to the families of all those who were killed and we support the calls to seek justice for them. We reach out in solidarity to our CSO members and colleagues in the Zamboanga Peninsula as they make sense of what is happening and its implications to their development work in that part of Mindanao. We support the humanitarian response to the affected communities that they provide, together with government partners and other groups, even as we call on both parties respect the rights of people caught in the conflict and put an end to the senseless loss of lives and destruction to property and livelihoods.

The peace talks between the GPH and the MILF, now on its 40 th round of exploratory talks in
Kuala Lumpur, is an ongoing process that is widely viewed as process that will finally resolve
the conflict in Mindanao. We appreciate the fact that both GPH and the MILF have expressed a commitment to finished their work and not be derailed by the ongoing stand-off. We are saddened by the baseless accusations from some irresponsible persons that the peace talks has not been inclusive and has disregarded the 1996 Peace Agreement and related legislation. We have journeyed with our Muslim brothers and sisters in these peace processes and we know that the ongoing GPH-MILF has, in many, ways been building on victories of past peace negotiations with the aim in view of finding mechanisms and putting in place structures that work, respecting the rights of our Muslim brothers and sisters. There may have been some problems, some imperfections but we believe that as long as the parties maintain an open line of communications with all sectors, solutions to such problems may be considered as the processes leading up to the creation of the Bangsamoro.

We once again renew our commitment to Peace by ways of peace as we join other peace-loving citizens. Our member networks through our base NGO/PO/cooperatives members are calling on our partners in communities all over Mindanao to remain calm and help to explain the imperative and the importance of seeking a peaceful resolution to this latest incident as we denounce in very strong terms the irresponsible calls to more military response to end the crisis. We call on the members of media to be responsible in reporting the facts of the incident so that what comes out in print and broadcast and in social networking sites will not sow fear and anger among our people and worst, incite them to support war.

We commit to walking only in the Paths of Peace, wherever we work in urban and rural poor communities in Mindanao. We will stand unafraid to denounce loud and clear the all-out war campaigns and the violation of human rights in many communities in Mindanao. Our passion for peace is in the heart of our work for sustainable development so that we continue to work for the end of conflicts that divide us, to put an end to the senseless loss of lives and property because of war and conflict. We know all too well that our civilian partners in the communities suffer the most in any situation of conflict. Development efforts are rendered useless when people development efforts grind to a halt.

End the violence and talk Peace!

(Sgd) Patricia M. Sarenas. Chairperson

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