The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao opens in Hiroshima with discussion among stakeholders

by Naomi Suzunaka, Staff Writer

The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao (COP6) opened on June 23 at the International Conference Center Hiroshima in Naka Ward to discuss ways to promote peace between the Philippine government and Islamic insurgents after 40 years of conflict on the island of Mindanao, located in the southern Philippines. Through June 25, a variety of issues will be addressed as Mindanao moves toward establishing an autonomous government.

Teresita Quintos-Deles, presidential adviser of the Philippine’s Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), among others, have gathered for the meeting. Mr. Murad said in his keynote speech, “The fight did not end in signing the peace agreement. The agreement must be kept,” and called on the parties involved to give the pact their commitment.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui welcomed the COP6 meeting and said, “This seminar held in Hiroshima, where many innocent citizens lost their lives [in the atomic bombing], is a good opportunity to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of men.”

At the press conference, Mr. Murad referred to the process of normalizing public security and emphasized the importance of carrying out disarmament efforts. Ms. Deles responded, “We must normalize the situation by undertaking comprehensive processes.”

COP6 has been jointly organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Universiti Sains Malaysia. The past five COPs were all held in Malaysia. The sixth COP, which is the first COP since the conclusion of the peace agreement, had been planned for Hiroshima, an A-bombed city and a symbol of peace. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will attend the meeting on June 24. On June 25, the Hiroshima declaration will be adopted.

This past March, the Philippine government and MILF agreed on a comprehensive peace agreement, which stipulates that MILF will lay down their arms and an autonomous government will be established in 2016. The Japanese government has been actively supporting the peace process, such as helping to arrange confidential meetings.

(Originally published on June 24, 2014)