The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI) is greatly saddened by the tragic encounter that recently took place in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, between members of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Moro. The incident claimed the lives of at least 50 PNP-SAF soldiers and 5 MILF members. Several more from both camps were wounded. We send our heartfelt sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones in this terrible incident. For this to happen in the midst of the peace process between the Government and the MILF is extremely worrisome.
Unfortunately, there are clamors through social media and other venues for an all-out war, vengeance for the deaths of comrades, and justice through violent means. At present there is little clarity as to exactly what happened and who holds responsibility. Clearly, though, we are all affected, especially the people of Mindanao and those who are in the immediate area of the encounter.
We at MPI call on the Government of the Philippines (GPH) to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident in close collaboration with their counterparts in the MILF. The GPH and the MILF should hold responsible those in ultimate command of the forces who failed to assure the proper conduct of the operations and coordination between the forces of the government and the MILF.
We also call on all people of the Philippines and elsewhere to be responsible and reasonable when posting to and commenting through the web and on social media platforms. It is appropriate to be critical, but also important to be rightly informed. We call on individuals, groups and institutions to show restraint in posting and giving comments that may only serve to propagate hate, prejudice, and misinformation and further spread chaos and confusion among the Filipino people. The "virtual" arguments in social media can have very real consequences for people on the ground.
Let us stand firm in our hopes for and vision of a peaceful Mindanao. We urge all to stand for PEACE.