MILF conducts mass consultations for peace
Emma Leslie acts on behalf of Conciliation Resources as a member of the International Contact Group supporting the Philippines peace process, and is Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
The Bangsamoro Leadership Assembly only comes about every few years. The last one was 2005. It is a mass gathering of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members from across Mindanao, and the Philippines.
Some say there were as many as 550,000 people there. More conservative estimates think 200,000. Whatever the head count, it’s a spectacular event of Moro Muslims gathering to be briefed by the leadership on the peace process, and for the members to give their own ideas and direction to the Central Committee on the way forward.
I attended this event as a member of the International Contact Group (ICG), a body of four non-governmental organisations and four foreign governments who attend peace talks and act as a third-party guarantor to the process facilitated by the government of Malaysia. Within this partnership Conciliation Resources plays a crucial role in helping to move the process forward.
Cooperation and dialogue are key to the Mindanao peace process
In the midst of what is often portrayed as a protracted conflict zone, even in the context of this peaceful, consultative gathering one might be concerned about security. Yet here in a well-structured ceasefire area the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – some of whom are women – and the Armed Forces of the Philippines worked side by side, in good spirits, to ensure the smooth organisation of the event.
Where in the world does the representative of the government, opposed by those gathered, give a speech for peace, and be cheered on with the cry “Allah Akbah (God Is Great)!”
Surely the ground is ripe for peace in this part of Asia and we hope it comes soon.
Emma Leslie, member of the International Contact Group
Interested to find out more about the peace process in this region?
- Visit our Philippines programme pages
- Read more about women, peace and security in the Philippines
- Get an overview of the issues through Accord 9: Compromising on autonomy: Mindanao in transition