Open Letter to the Public on the Situation in Maguindanao

On 16 March 2015, All-­Out Peace released a statement on the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao, "A Call for Humanitarian Ceasefire in MaguindaNOW! All­Out Peace Statement of Appeal." As an Asian training institute grounded in the Mindanao, Philippines, context the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc., affirms All-Out Peace's call for just and peaceful resolutions to the conflict in Mindanao, particularly in the areas of Maguindanao identified in the statement of All-Out Peace.

We also express our grave concern over the humanitarian crisis that has arisen out of the decision by the Philippine National Police (PNP) – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operations. There are now 123,537 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) according to Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (HEART).

As with All-Out Peace, MPI is alarmed by the use of artillery shelling and airstrikes and intensified military operations with "no fixed timeline for the ongoing operations" according to military sources. This will not only result in increasing casualties on both sides of the conflict, but will result in long-term psychosocial damage to the residents, especially the children.

As such, along with All-Out Peace, we raise the following urgent calls:

  1. We urge the PNP‐AFP to declare a SUSPENSION OF MILITARY OPERATIONS in Maguindanao. In addition, we call on the leadership of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to declare a cease-fire. As All-Out Peace indicated, this would allow for emergency assistance by humanitarian groups to the displaced persons and families in the evacuation camps, homes of host families and community spaces;
  2. We, too, appeal for civic groups, other sectors and the general public to help in mobilizing humanitarian assistance in consonance with the emergency response protocols, standards and guidelines for relief drive and distribution; and
  3. Along with All-Out Peace, we call for the primacy of civilian protection amidst the excessive and indiscriminate use of artillery shelling and airstrikes and any other military operations and actions by the BIFF in, on and around civilian communities in Maguindanao. We remind the key actors on both sides to strongly adhere to the international humanitarian laws, specifically the 4th Geneva Convention, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID).

MPI believes that the only path to peace is through constructively dealing with the conflict. We train people from around the globe in the tools and art of peacebuilding, and yet violence rages only a short distance from where the peacebuilders gather each year. Along with All-Out Peace, we call on the leadership of both sides to declare a humanitarian ceasefire and for all people to help as they can with humanitarian assistance, now!

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