The timely and newly organized group called Grassroots Peace Monitoring Network (GPMN) successfully launched <!–more–>,attended by more than 160 participants coming from twenty two civil society organizations (CSOs), international non-government organizations (INGOs) prominent guests held at the KFI Community Resource Center Convention Hall, Cotabato City on March 18, 2015.
The group borne out of a series of brainstorming spearheaded by Balay Mindanao Foundation BMFI, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), Oblates of Mary Foundation- Inter-Religious Dialogue (OMF-IRD) supported by the Non-Violent Peaceforce (NP) and United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEFF) international bodies later joined by Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC) and other local peace advocates.
The end result of this caucus tackled the current situations on the ground in their respective areas of operation with respect to the adverse effect of the tragic Mamasapano Incident on January 25, 2015 and the heightened emotions as a result of the Senate Inquiry as well as its impact to the most hoped passing into law of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). In general, the situation above inflamed emotions especially to the people outside Mindanao that calls for the stoppage of the peace process and “all out war” declaration in Mindanao. On the other hand, the apprehensions also in the civilians in conflict-affected areas are rising high. This made the convener group to call on other peace advocates to join in monitoring the situation on the ground, thus formed the “Grassroot Peace Monitoring Network” (GPMN) which is composed of more than 22 organizations who have their respective monitoring mechanisms on the ground like the Bantay Ceasefire of MPC, Tiyakap Kalilintad of CBCS, Tiyakap Kawagib of BCJP and the likes of it.
The launching program started with tri-people prayers for the Muslims, Christians and Lumads followed by the welcome message of Fr. Roberto Layson, OMI head of the Oblates of Mary Foundation – Inter-Religious Dialogue and head Convener of GPMN. In his message he stressed how this new networks of peace monitors work as a collegial body by saying: “If you want to go somewhere, walk – and when you walk, walk together”, stressing the importance of collaboration of each other in a journey for peace.
Mr. Guiamel Alim, chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and Executive Director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and Co-Convener of GPMN on his message stressed the euphoria brought about by the seemingly closure part of the 18 years negotiation culminating in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) being deliberated in Congress. However, he said the jubilation suddenly stopped with the “Mamasapano Incident” and inflate hatred, chauvinism, prejudices and calls for war against the Bangsamoro filled the air. Amidst those who calls for war in Mindanao he ended his message by saying and quoted: “You are free to choose which path to take (war or peace) but we are not free to run away from the result of your choice”. (See complete text of the message in a separate article)
On his part Quraish Langcap Team Leader of CBCS Quick Fact-finding Team (CBCS-QFFT) and which team will be the permanent group assigned to GPMN activities started his presentation by requesting the participants for one minute silent prayer in honoring the victims of the “Jabidah Massacre” on March 18, 1968 and coincidentally the launching program falls on the same date. Then he proceeded with presenting rationale, purposes, duties and function and the structure of the new coalition of peace monitors.
Also present are the GPMN participating member-organizations like United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Moro Women for Peace, economic and Cultural Center (MWDECC), Lipad Mindanao, IMEAS-USM, Moro Women Association for Good Governance (MWAGG), Kadtuntaya Foundation (KFI), MAGNETO, Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM), LUMPINGAN, Alliance of Peace Advocates, Magungaya Mindanao (MMI), Community Organizers Multiversity (CoM), Integrity of Moro Association of Natives (IMAN), CBPPC, Youth Association for Peace and Development (YAPDN), MAPAD, Parihala Mindanao, Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP), Kasama Inc, ABAI, Suara Kalilintad and SHIELD. There are also media partners presence among them, the Voice Hot FM, the Mindanao Express, Public Information Agency (PIA), DXUP Teleradyo, GoG Bantay-Bayan, Mindanao Expose.
Among those support groups invited in the launching program and who committed their support are: United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), UNFPA, forum ZFD. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The government agencies like Office of the Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC-ARMM), Regional Unification and Reconciliation Commission (RRUC-ARMM) and Security Forces from the 6ID Philippine Army headed by their Deputy Division Commander General Lino Orense .
By Mike Kulat