Philippines: Declare a humanitarian ceasefire in Zamboanga City now!
A Petition Campaign in Support for Dialogue, Humanitarian Action and Ceasefire
We, the undersigned peace advocates, civil society groups and concerned citizens, seriously appeal in calling for dialogue and the immediate declaration of humanitarian ceasefire in the conflict-affected barangays in Zamboanga City to address the standoff since September 9, 2013.
Specifically, we urge H.E. Benigno Simeon Aquino III, MNLF Chair Nur Misuari, Mayor Isabelle Climaco, Sec Teresita Deles, and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to heed the following calls :
We call for an immediate stop to the firefight and a prompt and orderly redeployment of forces – both the MNLF and the AFP to address the alarming evacuee situation;
We call on both parties to immediately delineate a humanitarian corridor where civilians and injured combatants may be safely assisted with their humanitarian needs;
Generate public support towards broad humanitarian action by allowing full access and the entry of humanitarian groups to complement existing efforts of the local government, DSWD, and civil society in Zamboanga City;
We call for both parties to dialogue and allow for sufficient space for peaceful negotiations to take place;
We strongly recommend that those who are responsible for the deaths, destruction of properties and other human rights violations will be held fully accountable;
We appeal to the Philippine Government and its Office on the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to translate its policy in addressing the fate of the MNLF peace process and their legitimate issues;
Lastly, we call for the intervention of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in resolving this issue, sustaining the role they have long-fulfilled in ensuring the hopes for peace in Mindanao.
We hope and pray that this matter is resolved quickly, justly and peaceably, and that equanimity prevails in the restoration of peace and order in Zamboanga City and its surrounds.
Declare a Zamboanga City-wide ceasefire now! Spare the civilians from armed hostilities! No to armed action and militarization in Zamboanga City!
INITIAL SIGNATORIES :
MINDANAO PEACEWEAVERS (MPW)
Agri-Aqua Development Coalition (AADC)
Alliance of Progressive Labor - Davao Region
Coalition of Social Development Organizations - South Cotabato (CSDO-SC)
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
GZO Peace Institute
Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies – Southern Phils Educational Cooperative Center (MASS-SPECC)
Makabayan Pilipinas -Mindanao
Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)
Mindanao Congress of NGOs and NGIs (MINCON)
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)
Pambansang Kilusang Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA-Mindanao)
Partido Lakas Masa (PLM-Mindanao)
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC-SEA)
Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG-Myanmar)
Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP-Asia)
The Life Skills Development Foundation (Thailand)
Women’s Initiatives Network for Peace (WIN PEACE-Myanmar)
Women’s Organizations Network (WON-Myanmar)
World without WARs and without Violence
We are all Zamboangueños
By Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)
Along with the country, we are deeply alarmed and saddened by the eruption of violence in Zamboanga City between the forces of the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction identified with Nur Misuari. We come from a tradition that believes in the need for deep, systemic, and transformational change, as well as the acknowledgement and rectification of historical crimes committed against the Bangsamoro people. However, the struggle for meaningful change is not an excuse to engage in senseless violence that victimizes the very people who are longing for social change.
We join other peace advocates, social movements and concerned citizens in calling on both the MNLF-Misuari faction and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to immediately cease all firefights and redeploy troops to address the humanitarian situation.
Protecting civilians must be the supreme priority. The innocent civilians of Zamboanga City must be spared from harm; all hostages must be immediately released and all civilians must have access to food, water, medicine, and electricity, and not caught in the crossfire. Along with others, we call on both sides to agree to immediately delineate a humanitarian corridor where civilians and injured combatants may be safely assisted, as well as an area where basic goods such as food, water, and medicine may be safely transported to those in need.
We also call on both the MNLF-Misuari faction and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to immediately begin the process of dialogue. We strongly recommend that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) clarify the future of government negotiations with the MNLF and that both sides resume negotiations in good faith.
We sincerely hope that this crisis will in no way hinder the ongoing peace process between the MILF and the Philippine government. The MILF and the GRP are on the brink of a historical peace agreement that can realize the end of widespread violence, as well as a commitment to the peaceful and dignified development of Mindanao and the Bangasmoro people. Akbayan continues to believe in and support the right of the Bangsamoro to self-determination and autonomy.
Finally, we salute the ordinary people, who, despite their own concerns volunteered in the relief efforts to help those who were displaced. We also ask the country to join us as we earnestly hope for the well-being of all those that are caught in the conflict and trapped in the occupied barangays, some of whom are our members.
We are all now Zamboangueños.
By SENTRO labor center
The labor center SENTRO calls for an immediate ceasefire in the ongoing hostility between government security forces and elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well as the prompt and unconditional release of all civilian hostages.
Thousands are now trapped in the standoff between MNLF and government forces that resulted to the complete shutdown of Zamboanga City. They include members of the MUJERES, a federation of community-based women’s organizations in Zamboanga peninsula affiliated to the APL-SENTRO, who are residing in the affected areas.
“We call on both sides – MNLF and GRP – to stop all the hostilities and allow a peaceful solution to this conflict,” Frank Mero, SENTRO chairperson appealed.
“We also call on the MNLF to immediately release all the hostages,” Mero added after receiving news that hostages were taken by the MNLF.
SENTRO reminded the MNLF that using civilians as human shield is a violation of Rule 97 of the Third Geneva Convention (with respect to prisoners of war), the Fourth Geneva Convention (with respect to protected civilians), and Additional Protocol I (with respect to civilians in general).
SENTRO likewise cautioned the government and the military and other security forces not to use this situation to inflict harm especially to civilians and other non-combatants. Violations of human rights usually occur during this kind of conflict.
SENTRO firmly upholds the right of the Moro people for self-determination, but likewise believes that violence is no longer the right path to realize such an aspiration. Civilians, mostly innocent women and children, are primarily the ones that are victimized by senseless wars.
PLM statement on the Zamboanga Crisis
By Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)
Philippine government’s attempt to terminate the peace review process with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has triggered the war situation in Zamboanga City, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) found out yesterday.
Documents given to PLM by a senior MNLF source attest to Philippine government’s attempt to end the peace negotiations with the MNLF by requesting the termination of the ‘Tripartite Review Process’.
A letter dated March 21, 2013, written by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario to the Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. R.M. Marty Natalegawa, stated that the government “reiterate again” its request for Indonesia, as Chair of the OIC-PCPS [OIC-Peace Committee for Southern Philippines], “to put the closure of the Tripartite Review Process as the agenda for the next Tripartite Meeting.” According to the letter, "all the issues attending the tripartite review process have already been resolved, and that it is now the right time to put an end to the review process …”.
The Del Rosario letter (sent in March 2013) was also a reiteration of a similar letter sent on January 30, 2013 to the Indonesian Foreign Minister.
The Tripartite Review Process involves the government of the Philippines, the MNLF and the OIC. The review process began in 2007 in Jeddah to deal with the MNLF concerns about the lack of full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF.
The current fighting between the MNLF forces loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari and the Armed Forces of the Philippines – which has resulted in Zamboanga City being turned into a war zone – clearly demonstrates that the outstanding issues have by no means been resolved. It also raises serious questions about government claims that they have not attempted to close down the negotiations with the MNLF and exclude them from the peace process. The correspondence between Del Rosario and the Indonesian government indicates that the opposite was in fact the case.
To add insult to injury, the Explanatory Note attached to the letter claims that the issues raised by Nur Misuari “were already addressed.” And in a contradictory point further in the Notes, it states that the Framework Agreement signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on October 15, 2012, “will actually address the ‘unresolved issues’ that Misuari is insisting on.”
It seems that the government has seriously miscalculated its assessment of the strength of the MNLF, and in particular the influence of Nur Misuari amongst the MNLF fighters. This miscalculation has led to a series of blunders in its handling of the MNLF and its various factions in the peace process.
While the government is at pains to blame the recent fighting on the “Misuari faction” of the MNLF, we don’t think such crude “divide and rule” tactics will help achieve lasting peace in Mindanao. The MILF, for example, has now called on the government to accommodate the demands of Nur Misuari in the Framework Agreement and for a review of all previous agreements.
The government has bungled an opportunity for achieving a historic peace in Mindanao and is now having to mop up the disaster from an armed conflict, which has resulted in hundreds of casualties, destruction of homes and livelihoods and over 100,000 evacuees in the last few days.
Lastly, we reiterate the demands of the peace advocates and civil society groups for a Zamboanga citywide ceasefire now, and the inclusion and accommodation of the MNLF and Nur Misuari’s issues to the peace process in Mindanao.
Posted by DeLPhi