|Mindanao is Bleeding
Statements of Peace
Unleashing the Dogs of War
The Abuja Islamic Education Trust
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Statement of the
On April 27, 2000, the respective panels of the GRP and the MILF agreed on the following:
1. That they normalize the situation in Mindanao;
2. That they commit to pursue the ongoing peace process;
3. That they normalize the situation in the Narciso Ramos Highway by tasking the Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities of both panels to study the following proposals for the consideration of the panels to wit:
3.1 PNP to take over in insuring security and law and order at the highway;
3.2 The GRP and MILF to remain in their then current positions;
3.3 The joint CCCH to submit its paper on the matter on or before 15 May 2000.
The IFFC regards this April 27 agreement as a positive and significant step to avert the brewing tension in the Narciso Highway / Matanog area. The agreement would have provided a better alternative to a military solution which would inevitably result in the derailment of the peace process, the loss of lives from both sides and the massive displacement of the civilian populace.
We note with deep concern that fighting has begun in Sitio Bubong, Barangay Nuyo, Municipality of Buldon around 9:00 A.M. Friday, April 28, 2000. Around 5:30 A.M., April 29, Saturday, the Marines began clearing the Narciso Ramos Highway of all MILF detachments. Heavy fighting and shelling are now going on. Civilians have evacuated to Parang early yesterday, April 29, 2000.
We also note the widening of the conflict as fighting between the GRP and MILF forces in Camp Bader, Talayan and the massing of AFP forces around Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao take place.
Because of these fightings, the Narciso Ramos Highway as well as the Cotabato-Isulan highway are unpassable.
Today, April 30, 2000, at around 2:30 P.M., the MILF unilaterally declared that the GRP-MILF Peace Talks is indefinitely suspended.
The IFFC, as the body tasked to investigate violations of the ceasefire agreement, urgently appeals to the GRP and the MILF to immediately order a ceasefire in the affected areas and to refer to the April 27, 2000 GRP-MILF agreement as a formula to resolve the conflict along Narciso Ramos Highway, Central Mindanao and Lanao del Norte.
The present situation is potentially explosive and may escalate in a total war between the AFP and the MILF.
April 30, 2000, Cotabato City.
URGENT APPEAL OF THE INDEPENDENT FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE (IFFC) OF THE GRP-MILF PEACE TALKS
May 3, 2000
The conflict between the GRP and the MILF is fast escalating into an all-out armed confrontation. To date, hundreds of combatants and civilians have been killed or wounded and thousands of families have been displaced. The armed conflict is fast spreading in many fronts. Prospects for the immediate cessation of hostilities are diminishing in light of government pronouncements supporting the military actions. The GRP and the MILF have begun all-out offensives against each other.
The IFFC is urgently appealing to the GRP and the MILF to declare a 72-hour truce to facilitate high-level negotiations to work out a ceasefire. The truce is imperative to create the atmosphere conducive to negotiations. This appeal is specially addressed to His Excellency, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada who is the only one who can stop the escalation of this armed conflict in Central Mindanao.
May 3, 2000
Fr. Eliseo R.
Mercado, Jr., OMI, Chairman
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