We, members of Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325), a national network of women in human rights, women, and peace organizations, express our unequivocal rejection of war and military solution to the crisis arising from the October 18 tragedy in Al-barka, Basilan.
Roughly 30,000 civilians from affected communities in Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay and Lanao provinces are now scattered in various evacuation camps while others seek refuge in homes of families and relatives who live away from the conflict areas. Majority of the internally displaced persons are women and children.
While We Act 1325 commends President Aquino for issuing a strict order on the primacy of the peace process, and the MILF for staying the course of the peace process, we ask the government and the MILF to:
- Resume in earnest formal negotiations on the substantive agenda;
- Take into account any violations of the ceasefire agreement and related mechanisms such as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) guidelines and make the results of investigation available to the public;
- Institute binding and strict measures that will compel adherence or compliance to all agreements forged between parties in conflict;
- Respect the civilian character of evacuation camps and other defined safe spaces;
- Uphold the government’s commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (and its succeeding resolutions) to ensure that women’s special needs in situations of conflict are prioritized and appropriately addressed, and their contributions valued and recognized;
- Provide protection from sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence, especially in evacuation camps; and
- Involve and engage the participation of more women in formal and informal peace negotiations or processes, as well as in relief and rehabilitation services in affected areas.
As women, we are alarmed that our voices and efforts for peace seem to be drowned by the loud drums of war. We are dismayed by statements from politicians, journalists, media and even some bishops that frame the MILF as “the enemy” rather than a committed party to the peace negotiations and even ceasefire agreement. They question the peace policy and established processes of peacebuilding and confidence-building based on government’s “six paths to peace”.
Unfortunately, they are playing to attitudes of machismo as well as ethnic and religious discrimination that are still dominant in our society.
We ask you to stop depicting the other as the enemy. Stop sowing hate. The costs of war increase when anti-peace sentiments and malicious statements are peddled this way. Hence, we appeal to all concerned to work instead in diffusing tension by promoting communication and understanding between parties in conflict.
War solves nothing. WOMEN DEMAND ALL-OUT PEACE!
WE Act 1325 Calls for a Longer Ceasefire
We, members of WE Act 1325 (Women Engaged in Action on UN Security Council Resolution 1325), a national network of women, peace and human rights organizations, call upon the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other non-state actors to silence their guns and other weapons of war in observance of the Christmas season, and to respect the grieving period in Northern Mindanao and some parts of the Visayas affected by typhoon Sendong.
The Christmas season is one of the most important and sacred occasions for Christians around the world; and as a way of respecting and forging solidarity with people of Christian faith, we urge the parties in conflict in the Philippines to suspend military operations.
While WE Act 1325 welcomes the declaration of suspension of military operations (SOMO) against the NDF/CPP/NPA by the government and the NDF’s ceasefire declaration on selected dates, we still appeal for a longer ceasefire.
A longer ceasefire is necessary in the light of the Northern Mindanao tragedy. Let us take the time to focus on rescue, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work and allow affected families to grieve in peace.
Women want enduring peace. Our people need the space and respite from violence and armed conflict. Those affected by past wars and the recent natural disaster deserve all the assistance and solidarity during these challenging times.
Silence the guns now – and beyond the Christmas season!