The Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE NGO) joins the Filipino people in condemning the horrific bombing carried out during a Catholic mass that took place yesterday at the Mindanao State University Gymnasium in Marawi.
The attack, which coincided with the island-wide celebration of this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace, killed four mass attendees and wounded more than 40 people. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Such acts of terror are universally unacceptable. Nothing could ever justify such use of barbaric force. We are one with the nation in mourning this tragedy and in calling for justice for its victims and their families.
What happened in Marawi is a critical juncture in the long history of armed violence in the southern provinces of the Philippines. Marawi is still reeling from the devastation inflicted by the Marawi Siege in 2017. The deadly bombing at MSU also coincided with ongoing efforts by the national government, Bangsamoro Transition Authority, civil society organizations, and international development partners to facilitate institution-building and strengthen governance in the region.
Amidst these attempts to incite fear and stir hatred, let us exercise sobriety and look at the many pathways of solidarity before us. Understanding that armed conflict is rooted in historical injustices, unfulfilled rights, and unmet needs, civil society organizations have been working closely with the national government, groups in conflict with the State, and fragile and conflict-afflicted communities in addressing the political, social, and economic roots of armed conflict. The Bangsamoro peace process demonstrates the indispensable role of multi-stakeholder collaboration in our quest for a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
Protecting these gains will require the constant vigilance of the public and sustained collective action towards genuine peace and inclusive development. Towards this end, we call for unity towards our common mission for peace. May this solidarity with all peace-loving Mindanaons extinguish our prejudices and remind us of what we have already achieved in this difficult yet necessary pursuit.