• That a thorough investigation by a credible independent body be conducted on all incidents of bombing (July 4 in Datu Piang, Maguindanao; July 5 in Cotabato City; July 6 in Lanao del Norte; and July 7 in Jolo and Iligan City) to unmask the truth behind them (who perpetrated/masterminded them, for what motives/reasons, are they related to one another) and bring the culprits to justice;
• That responsible reporting be observed always by the media. The people of Mindanao cannot afford the Christian-Muslim killings of the 1970’s to resurface. After the Cotabato City blast, news reports have spread that give the impression that it was the cathedral that was bombed. To make it clear, the blast took place in a stall selling lechon across the cathedral compound. It totally wrecked the stall and also damaged a portion of a certain beerhouse. Nevertheless, this makes no excuse to bomb the place;
• That places of worship be spared from any form of violence and/or desecration. The blast in Jolo also happened near a church. We denounce the bombings in the same manner that we condemn acts by men in uniform who occupied mosques, urinated in them and/or desecrated them;
• That the immediate acts of finger-pointing be stopped to prevent further escalation of the conflict and to contain any possible public panic to pave the way for sobriety, as well as thoughts and actions that are reasonable and not solely driven by biases, emotions and preconceived notions that may be wrong;
• That all people should be accorded their human rights, including both victims and suspects. The incremental number of victims of human rights violations has long been alarming. No one should be another victim of human rights violation in pursuit of justice. Due process should always be observed in dealing with suspects to the bombing: one is innocent until proven guilty, not one is guilty until proven innocent;
• That groups of all faiths here in Mindanao be more vigilant and strengthen their unity and solidarity in the face of these bleak incidents. This is NOT a Muslim-Christian conflict. Let us clear our minds and fortify our greatest resolve not to allow these dastardly acts to successfully sow suspicion and animosity that could lead to conflict; and,
• That the peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front return to the negotiating table to solve the age-old Mindanao conflict. The problem of the Bangsamoro as an indigenous people is highly political that it can only be resolved through genuine political means and not through military operations. Quelling rebellion and bringing peace are two different things. The peace talks are the highest form of dialogue between the two parties. A final agreement between them could spell sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro homeland.
We join in consoling and comforting the families of the victims of the blasts, the more than half a million internally displaced persons who have also been further agonized by indiscriminate bombings in the very sites of evacuation, and other people who are victims of injustices.
Our prayers for the attainment of genuine peace and development.
Read also: NUCP statement on series of bombings in Mindanao
* * *
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
KFI Compound, Doña Pilar Street, Poblacion IV
9600 Cotabato City, Philippines
Telefax No.: +63 (064) 421-5420
E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com