By Abu Saiful Haqq
June 21, 2012 News: The Mindanao Actions for Peace and Development Initiatives, Inc.(MAPAD) through its Local Peace Initiators (LPI) facilitated the halting of the looming conflict that has existed for more than 10 years between Sumansang and Kuwenda Clans in Sitio Mamasabulod, Barangay New Panay, Aleosan Cotabato on Sunday, June 15, 2012, with financial support from The Asia Foundation (TAF), a non-state member of the International Contact Group of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace negotiations.
The said activity was attended by some 500 persons, which included the guests from the local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations, Ceasefire Committees of the GPH-MILF peace process, and commanders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).
In her opening message, Lolita V. Caputulan, Chairwoman of Barangay New Panay, deeply thanked the MAPAD and LPI for their efforts in bringing the two clans into dialogues, which led to the resolution of their feud over a parcel of land in said village.
Ustadz Rahib L. Kudto, Chairman of the newly formed Local Peace Initiator, discussed the background of the activity.
He disclosed that the communities were alarmed by emerging conflict because they know that once fighting starts other armed groups will join the fray, which he said can spill over to Pikit and Carmen, both in the same province.
“LPI has been coordinating with local authorities of both government and MILF, and partnering with the already existing groups that are doing conflict mitigation to make its intervention more effective,” Rahib added.
Hon. Loreto Cabaya, Jr. congratulated the families for the peaceful reconciliation that they did.
He added that it may be a small thing but it has a very big impact as it would support efforts for bringing about lasting peace in Mindanao.
Mayor Cabaya disclosed to that he even visited Camp Darapanan for three times along with his Barangay chieftains bringing to MILF leaders the message of peace and to let his barangay captains know that Camp Darapanan is not just a rebel camp but inhabited by people asserting their rights in the quest for genuine peace.
“I am calling the attention of both parties to please honor this covenant, cease from committing feuds because it will hamper development of your community, and your children, in the future, will become losers,” Cabaya appealed.
Maj. General Dato Zulkifli Mohd Noor, Deputy Head of Mission of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), said the IMT is here in Mindanao to ensure that no violation of agreement between GPH and MILF will happen and ensure that peace process would move forward.
He hoped that a peace agreement would follow soon because the parties have already signed 10-point decisions on principles.
“Your affair today maybe a small gesture but it has a big impact in the current peace process, may this will expand in the whole Mindanao,” Brig. Gen. Zulkifli stressed.
Basir Talib, representative of the AHJAG, MILF, expressed MILF’s full support to any effort toward resolving these feuds, kwon locally as “rido”.
Asked about the primary role of the LPI, Mahdie Amella, Executive Director of the MAPAD Initiatives, said, it is the ground forces of the MAPAD responding rapidly to brewing tensions, flare ups, skirmishes and other emergencies that necessitate the securing of civilians.
“It is currently composed of 15 members fully equipped with skills on conflict mediation and settlement. It coordinates with all existing groups operating on the ground be it with the MILF or Philippine government,” Amella elaborated.
He added that the LPI partners with INGOs that has conflict management and resolution programs so that it could be supported technically and financially.
Hon. North Cotabato Governor Lala Taliño Mendoza sent Idris Gandalibo, deputy Governor for Maguindanaon Affairs as her representative.
Nonviolent Peaceforce, Mindanao Peoples Causcus, both are members of the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of the IMT, GAP – Hunger, COORDINATING Committee of Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the GPH, 40 Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army and Tasked Force Ittihad of the BIAF, MILF, also graced the event.