ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – The government’s chief negotiator in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has called on the people of Mindanao to “rage against the violence” happening in various parts of the region.
Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer spoke here Wednesday in a forum attended by leaders of indigenous peoples, academe, business, civil society, and the local communities during which she explained the status of the peace negotiations with the MILF.
Coronel-Ferrer was accompanied by peace panel members Yasmin Busran-Lao and Senen Bacani, and the panel’s military adviser, Major General Leo Crescente Ferrer.
“We should stand up and say we cannot allow these to happen,” Coronel-Ferrer stressed.
“That is myself speaking as a peace advocate,” she added.
Mindanao has been rocked by a series of bomb attacks within the last two weeks with the blasts in Cagayan de Oro on July 26 and in Cotabato on Monday.
On Wednesday morning, seven soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Shariff Mustapha Saydona town in Maguindanao. Earlier on the same day, a bomb blasted off near a radio station in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Coronel-Ferrer explained that even as the bombings were not linked to efforts to derail the peace process between government and the MILF, these have painted a negative impression on the parties’ capacity to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the region.
“Bombings and other inhumane acts have not softened our resolve to continue to work for non-violence, peace and development in these areas that have suffered far too long from hostilities,” she pointed out.
Coronel-Ferrer said the bombings in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato “are an affront to the people of Mindanao’s right to personal and collective well-being and security.”
“We take heart in the peaceful mobilizations of the residents of Cagayan de Oro that show that they will not live with this kind of violence. The people of Cotabato should likewise show their indignation, as should the rest of the country,” she added.
Muhammad Ameen, chair of the MILF secretariat, described the Cotabato bombing as “barbarism.”
Ameen said the attack “deliberately targeted” civilians “as means to deliver a message for an evil agenda.”
“Whoever did this deserved the wrath of Allah,” Ameen added.