Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press ( for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Updates: No one wins; everybody loses in war

Any mouth-watering "war journalist" would find experiences around many parts of the country these days as "news worthy" spectacles. For them, this could be a season of "war stories". It's a pity we still have people like them, who has the tendency to focus only on the "acts of war" and its dynamics, and not to its effect to civilians, for example.

Especially if you look closer at the Mindanao situation were peace is challenged in many corners, with continuing and emerging fronts in relationships with the leftists rebels, the Moro rebels, the terrorist threat, among others and should I also include the degree of un-peacefullness that the American soldiers' presence have caused?

Newsworthy indeed, but for any journalist from Mindanao who is in Mindanao, whose family and friends are in Mindanao, many of them in those conflict areas, its horrible. If one could hear the appeal of people against un-peace, against evacuations, against trauma and against physical, economic, and socio-cultural displacement; there is nothing spectacular in this.

This is a challenging time to go extra mile in making sure the stories that matter get through to save lives and relationships. This is sharply a painful experience, what with the gains of peace talks and other efforts to bridge divides. What with the aspirations of the people for better lives.

If the parties to the conflict would use only the lens of military advances, enemy under control, and conquered camps, then it is possible for a victor to rise.

Unfortunately, military action has never been the cure to the problems of un-peacefulness (including the fact that it is also not a solution to the causes of un-peace), especially in Mindanao. It only breeds more conflicts, deep penetrating wounds and long standing divisions.

I believe, at the end of the day, NO ONE WINS, EVERYBODY LOSES in war. Fr. Robert Layson, who was parish priest of Pikit, North Cotabato, a town caught in the midst of wars in Mindanao, puts it aptly in his book's title: "In war, the real enemy is war itself."

[From MindaNews news service. Not yet available in as of 1:44 a.m. July 4].

Blog monitoring the ceasefire
Originally uploaded by waltzib.
“Stop the war, save the evacuees!”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 July) – Local and international NGOs and humanitarian agencies in Mindanao have called on President Arroyo to “listen to the raging cries of our people for peace, justice and respect for human dignity and order all government forces to still their guns,” as they appealed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to “exercise restraint, continue to observe the ceasefire and allow the Joint Ceasefire Committee to help normalize
the situation.”

The groups made the frantic call “stop the war, save the civilians, save the evacuees,” to allow for relief goods to reach an estimated 2,000 families displaced by war and in some towns, also by floods.

“We are especially concerned with the situation of some 2,000 evacuee-families who have yet to receive any relief assistance. Relief organizations, including even government agencies, have not been allowed to get near the affected communities, where the refugees are stuck even as they try to be mobile. Both the government and the MILF could not assure the securit y of relief workers. Not even the usually effective Joint MILF and Government Ceasefire Committee nor the International Monitoring Team is able to penetrate the actual zones of fighting,” the statement dated July 2, read.

The statement noted that while the country was focusing on the Pacquiao-Larios boxing fight last Sunday, “over a thousand evacuee-families—women, children and elderly have meanwhile been uprooted in five of the nine barangays that have been partly submerged in water with the flood from the downpours the past

“The ensuing flood is the least of the evacuees’ worries. What they really dread is the rain of mortars, bullets and bombs that have been the bane of this land almost all their lives,” the statement read.

Fighting in the area began evening of June 28 between armed civilian volunteers (CVOs) of Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan and armed men believed to be members of the MILF, purportedly in retaliation for the June 23 ambush on the governor in Shariff Aguak, their hometown. The governor was unharmed but five of his companions were killed. The governor’s camp blamed the bombing on the MILF; the MILF denied the allegation.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, told MindaNews Monday evening that the MILF is “still on the defensive,” as he also expressed “hope the fighting stops.” The MILF Central Committee, he said, has come out with a four-point formula they had presented to the government side, as follows: “as soon as the Army-backed CAFGUs stop their attacks, MILF will agree to a ceasefire immediately; to return the evacuees immediately (to their villages);
to cooperate through the ceasefire committees to investigate the (June 23) bombing; and MILF does not consider Andal as an enemy.”

The usual mechanisms created by the two peace panels – the Joint
Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities and the International Monitoring Team – tried but failed to stop the hostilities.

“From only two barangays affected on the first day of the encounters to a total of nine villages in only a span of some 36 hours, local folk and civil society organizations are fearful that the ongoing battle indeed, has the potential ingredients of escalating to a full-blown war making it more difficult to control the forces involved if they do not immediately disengage,” the joint statement noted.

Among the 24 statement signatories are the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Bantay Ceasefire, Mindanao PeaceWeavers, Oxfam GB, Peace Advocates Zamboanga, Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus. (MindaNews)


Blogger Waltzib said...

If your group has a statement on the crisis in Maguindanao, please send it to


3:34 PM  

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