MANIFESTO OF THE YOUNG MORO PROFESSIONALS NETWORK- WESTERN MINDANAO: Spare Innocent Civilians, Settle Claim Peacefully

While the rift between the Malaysian forces and the followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is flaring up, and loads of affected civilians in Sabah continue to rise, the Young Moro Professionals Network – Western Mindanao (YMPN-WM), a concerned entity for the Bangsamoro welfare, is greatly disturbed and is feeling the urgency for an immediate resolution to the present crisis.

Notwithstanding the real number of casualties involved, the group mourns and feels the grief of the orphaned families especially women and children.

Aside from the loss of lives, the effects of this crisis have escalated into a multitude of other problems and its implications – socially, culturally, politically, and economically.

For instance, in the island-province of Tawi-Tawi, prices of basic commodities have gone up high – a dilemma that locals now have to face in their day-to-day life. The island-province is the country’s trading gateway in the south.

Importantly, Filipinos working in Sabah and their families estimated at about 800,000 are continuously threatened by fear and uncertainties on their fate.

More importantly, the crisis which started as a standoff in Lahad Datu three weeks ago, has resulted to bloodshed the week thereafter, and is now escalating in several areas of Sabah. Tomorrow and the days and weeks thereafter are still uncertain.

At this point, we are dismayed by the Philippine and Malaysian governments’ handling of the situation. Also, while we support the legitimacy of the Sultanate’s claim, the group feels that a more proper approach in reviving the claim should have been employed – one that does not harm the lives of its people nor result to their statelessness.

We condemn the use of violence and excessive force by the Malaysian security forces against the Filipinos, particularly the followers of the Sulu Sultanate.

We denounce the reported restriction on media coverage of the crisis; and assert that press freedom be respected and upheld.

We caution groups not to use the Sabah issue as political leverage especially in light of the coming elections – in the Philippines (May) and Malaysia (June). We also warn individuals not to exploit the situation to advance their personal interests.

We call on both government authorities to refrain from using politically incorrect terminologies such as terrorist, intruders, and other pejorative terms that are used out of context, considering the history, culture, and way of life of the inhabitants of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

We also call on the international community to intervene to avoid the possibility of a situation resulting to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Finally, we call for sobriety and enjoin the Malaysian and Philippine governments to observe the rule of Public International Law and International Humanitarian Law particularly on the cessation of hostilities, after all, peace is the only war worth fighting.

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