‘Let’s not give up on Mindanao peace despite BBL delay’ — German peace group
COTABATO CITY – A German government-funded peace group has urged Mindanao stakeholders to continue treading the path of peace amid the bleak outlook for the passage of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which proponents say would bring about an end to the cycle of violence on the island-region.
“Let’s continue to explore all possible ways to attain durable and lasting peace without resorting to violence and misery of people,” Wolfgang Doerner, program head of the Ziviler Friedensdienst (ZFD), said during a peace forum here Tuesday.
ZFD or Civil Peace Service is a program of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur lnternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ or the German Development Cooperation). It has been active in the Middle East, Western Balkans and Africa; and has started in the country in 2013.
It aims to help achieve an “inclusive and transparent peace process,” strengthen community leaders and local authorities towards non-violent transformation, and to help protect indigenous tribes from exploitation.
Doerner appealed for patience and perseverance despite frustration that could set in on the face of looming pessimism on the fate of the ongoing peace process between the Philippine national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
During Tuesday’s peace forum organized by the Kutawatu Multimedia Network here, allied peace advocates sounded-off their all-out stand against the resurgence of chaos and bloodshed.
Lawyer Eliza Dumama-Alba of the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission, said: “We will continue to engage amid possible impasse.”
Alba’s line echoed that of top MILF leaders, who said they have grown tired of war and that peace has become the only way for the Bangsamoro to move forward.
Alba said continuing with the path of peace would hinge on the outcome of the elections.
“Let’s support someone who understands Mindanao and its people; a candidate who has the heart of sound peace and compassion to fight against oppressors and corruption in government,” said Sammy Maulana, chair of the Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, agreed.
As this developed, European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said EU has reaffirmed its support to the continuation of the Bangsamoro peace process as this would be vital in enticing more investments in Mindanao.
“What we are trying to do is to explain how this also affects us and how it affects our work with the Philippines. The element of peace is very important for investments,” Jessen said in a separate forum on Tuesday.
“Peace and stability are key factors for investors that influence their decisions to develop Mindanao,” he said.
Jessen admitted that investments from the EU business community have not been strong “because they have uncertainties about the peace process.”
He said EU has continued to work with the Philippine government for peace in Mindanao because “its result would affect us in a global scale.”
In December, EU vowed to contribute P275 million in aid for Mindanao through the Suisse de Deminage, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, United Nations Development Program, and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in a bid to boost the prospects of peace. SFM
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