[Official CEAP Position on the Zamboanga Crisis]
We are anguished at the terror and suffering brought by Filipinos on fellow Filipinos in Zamboanga. We are dismayed that this has been wrought by people claiming to be aligned with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
We have supported the Peace Process in Mindanao. With the Framework Agreement Bangsamoro, we too have recognized: the status quo cannot continue. The injustices suffered by the Muslims of Mindanao have yet to be overcome. What was attempted in this direction in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and failed, needs to be overcome.
We waged peace, not war. Much work has been done. But it is not yet over.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) came to the negotiation table not with aspirations of cessation from the Philippines but for justice, not with hopes of independence from the nation but of integration. We appreciated this. As did the Aquino Administration. As they sought peace, so did we. We cheered every meeting of minds. We rued every delay in the negotiations. We thanked God for every advance.
We are saddened by the reappearance of antagonists into the public limelight, in battle fatigues and fully armed, wielding terror from the barrel of a gun, but shielding themselves from the military response they provoke with human hostages.
This is not the way to a Mindanao solution. This is not the way to peace. Let us heed the words of Pope Francis: “it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace” (Cf. Pope Francis’ Angelus Appeal for Peace in Syria).
We therefore join our Filipino Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao in their call for sobriety (Cf. No Victors in War: A Call for Sobriety and Peace, PDI, Sept. 12, pg. 3) and echo their call for all to work for peace. Let peace not be thwarted; let the peace process not be derailed.
With them, we condemn all killing, and call on all to save life, resonating with the words of the Qur’an “If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” We recall Jesus’ words, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take up the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt. 26:52).
With Pope Francis, we say: “May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.”