We gladly and warmly welcome the visit of the Independent Third Party Monitoring Team to the Balay Mindanaw Peace Center.
We are indeed humbled and honored by the visit. Aside from the chance to see and meet old and new friends of Balay Mindanaw, we also view this as a rare privilege and opportunity to modestly contribute to the efforts of building lasting and just peace in Mindanao and in the country.
Among Balay Mindanaw’s modest efforts to help build peace is its community-based peacebuilding and multi-stakeholders engagement work in the barangays of Maguindanao and Cotabato being implemented by a fulltime community-based peacebuilding team based in Balay Aleosan. We were privileged to have witnessed how the peoples and communities of Aleosan stood up and prevented war from recurring when the GPH-MILF Peace Process was about to hit a stalemate in August 2010.
Like most Mindanaons, we welcome and celebrate with hope and optimism the gains of the peace process.
We wish to acknowledge and affirm the various mechanisms that help ensure the success of the process. We particularly acknowledge the invaluable role of the International Contact Group (ICG) in keeping the process on track, and the key role that the TPMT could play in reaching the ultimate objectives of the process.
We also acknowledge the various initiatives aimed at creating and providing safe and open spaces for all stakeholders to meaningfully and genuinely take part in the process. Indeed, no one should be excluded.
However, we view with caution the seeming mad rush to the finish line. We are beginning to observe impatience and intolerance for dissenting voices. The seeming proliferation of “summits” (IP, LGU, CSO, what’s next?) has also highlighted this disturbing tendency to be exclusive rather than inclusive. Now, not later, is the right time to address the legitimate issues and concerns.
In closing, we wish to reaffirm our strong faith and belief in the peoples and communities who are the key builders of peace. All monuments are built on and from the ground, not from the sky.
20 February 2014