BASILAN OFFENSIVE: LIMITED POLICE ACTION
OR ALL-OUT WAR IN DISGUISE?
“Limited police action”, that is how the hawks in government and military describes the impending offensive in Basilan to assure the people that it will not lead to another all-out war. We have heard this phrase before.
In year 2000, this was also the phrase used in the aftermath of the Ozamiz ferry bombing. In year 2003, it was again used in the aftermath of the Davao city airport and wharf bombings. And from what transpired in those years, we all know the truth behind that phrase – ALL OUT WAR!
The 2000 and 2003 all-out wars led to thousands of deaths – combatants and civilians alike – and a million and a half internally displaced people. The reconstruction and return of the refugees have not even been completed and yet we are staring at the specter of another all-out war as a consequence of the Basilan encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF).
Therefore, we who come from various sectors and civil society organizations, who represent the true stakeholders of the Mindanao Peace Process, whose voices are drowned by the drums of war and jingoist calls for revenge, declare the following:
1. We condemn in no uncertain terms any and all atrocities and human rights abuses or any failure to respect the provisions of Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions BY ANY SIDE to the Mindanao Conflict;
2. We are disturbed at the attempt to exploit the legitimate outrage over the Basilan incident into calls for all-out war and abandonment of the GRP-MILF Peace Process;
3. We are disturbed at the disproportionate media coverage of atrocities committed by identified as Muslims versus those committed against them;
4. We strongly condemn the efforts to manipulate public opinion into acquiescing to another all-out war disguised as another “police action”;
5. We appreciate and commend the intense efforts of responsible people of both the AFP and the BIAF, as well as the respective peace panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and their respective ceasefire committees (CCCH) to defuse the volatile situation. We are aware of their difficult task made more difficult by the noise of the warmongers;
6. We also appreciate and commend the International Monitoring Team (IMT), and members of the international community particularly the governments of Malaysia, Japan, Canada, the United States, the European Union, and member countries of the Mindanao Trust Fund of the World Bank who have joined the calls for sobriety and reason;
7. We call on the Filipino public to educate themselves on the roots of the Mindanao conflict and not to take events into isolation but rather put it into the context of the long history of the conflict. We call on you to exercise your reason and to bear in mind that joining the calls of war will lead to the suffering of millions of people of all faiths in Mindanao;
8. We call on the media to observe the code of ethics of their profession and to be balanced and responsible both in their reporting and editorials;
9. We join the earlier calls of both government and civil society leaders in Mindanao (Mindanao Peaceweavers, Presidents of Catholic Universities and Colleges in Mindanao, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, ARMM Business Council, ARMM Regional Government) call on the government to refrain from any act that will irreversibly injure not only the peace process but also the welfare of the peoples of Mindanao;
10. We demand from the AFP and the BIAF to strictly adhere to their agreed upon ceasefire mechanisms as the only way to prevent repetitions of the Basilan encounter; and,
11. And we demand on all parties concerned, particularly the GRP and the MILF, to ensure sustainable peace by earnestly addressing the root causes of the Mindanao Conflict.
NO TO ALL OUT WAR IN MINDANAO DISGUISED AS LIMITED POLICE ACTION!
NO TO WAR, YES TO NEGOTIATED SOLUTION OF THE MINDANAO CONFLICT!
RESPECT THE CEASEFIRE MECHANISMS OF THE GRP-MILF PEACE PROCESS!
GUARANTY SUSTAINABLE PEACE BY ADDRESSING ROOT CAUSES OF THE MINDANAO CONFLICT!
Alliance of Muslim Advocates of Law (AMAL)
Assembly of the Dar’ul Ifta
Bangsamoro Lawyers Network (BLN)
Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy (MoroLaw)
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
Mindanao Interfaith for Human Rights Advocacy (MIHRA)
Mindanao Solidarity Group
Young Moro Professionals (YMP)