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13 Feb, 2015

Philippines: Thousands Call For Passage Of Bangsamoro Law to End Mindanao Conflict

COTABATO CITY, Feb 12 (NNN-PNA) — About 20,000 peace activists converged at the plaza here as part of simultaneous peace rallies in support of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as a permanent solution to the decades-old Mindanao conflict.

The peace rallies were staged in different areas in Mindanao — General Santos City; Marawi City; Baloi, Lanao del Norte; Pikit, North Cotabato; Paglat, Maguindanao; Bongao, Tawi-tawi; Jolo, Sulu; a peace caravan from Pagadian City to Zamboanga City– as well as in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) spokesman Prof. Raby Angkal said that the BBL is the only hope for genuine and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but the nation as a whole.

Cotabato Vice Mayor Abdullah Andang emotionally appealed to stop inciting for all-out war. “No! No to all-out war. We will support together the passage of the BBL,” he said.

From the restive town of Pikit, North Cotabato Vice Mayor Don Mangansakan also echoed the same call, “We don’t want to experience all-out war again, all we want is peace,” he said.

Business sector representative Sajud Salik cited the thriving economic conditions in Mindanao and expressed dismay on calls from some sectors for an all-out war which he said poses a very grave threat to the business climate and investment viability of Mindanao.

Peace advocates from General Santos City, Koronadal and Sarangani Province also gathered at the Oval Plaza in General Santos City. “We the youth appeal to push forward the passage of the BBL because we believe this is the solution to the perennial problem of conflict in Mindanao,” youth representative Montasair Ebrahim said.

In Marawi City, peace activists gathered at the Plaza Cabili calling for the passage of the BBL and condemning calls for all-out war. “The BBL is the solution for lasting peace, not all-out war,” Sophia Ampuan Sarip said.

Imran Abo Hayyan Malomalo, Board of Director of SAKSI IRF said that the BBL is the fruit of 17 years of painstaking negotiations between the government and the MILF peace panels and a tribute to the more than 120,000 lives sacrificed, 600,000 internally-displaced peoples and the thousands of Bangsamoro youth affected by conflict.

“Now we have the answer to the Bangsamoro question, we strongly appeal for the immediate passage of the BBL,” Malomalo said.

In Davao City, thousands also marched from the city’s Freedom Park to Rizal Park. Participants came from Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley.

Ustadz Mauladdin Sagapan said he and his companions from the religious sector came a long way from Davao Oriental just to attend the peace rally in Davao City to express their conviction that the solution to the Mindanao problem is not another war, but through a peaceful dialogue.

“We sympathize with those who perished in Mamasapano, but we should not make it a reason to abandon the peace process, abandon the BBL and make millions more including helpless children, orphans, women and elderly suffer from the horrors of another all-out war,” Sagapan said.

He said they are supporting the government determination to push forward the peace process and the immediate passage of the BBL in Congress.

“This is the only solution for lasting peace not only in Mindanao but the whole nation,” Sagapan added, calling on other sectors to unite in urging both houses of Congress to pass the BBL and not be waylaid by warmongers who are continuously calling for all-out war.

Norhaya Macusan of the Bangsamoro Soidarity Movement calls on all Filipinos to be cautious in their decisions and judgments.

“Let us choose peace in our decisions considering the lives and dreams of our children and the women who are the most vulnerable during conflicts,” Macusan said.

“War cannot be the solution. Let us strengthen our calls for peace because the Mamasapano incident are being used by those who want to sow conflict, we should not allow them,” she said. — NNN-PNA