08/20/2008 | 01:44 PM
MANILA, Philippines — The spokesman of the United Opposition (UNO) on Wednesday appealed to the public not to stereotype Filipino Muslims as “terrorists” as a result of the unprovoked killing of unarmed civilians allegedly by renegade members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Central Mindanao last Monday.
Adel Tamano, a Muslim scholar and lawyer, said such unfair characterization would be “a serious threat to the peace-process in Mindanao.”
“While all-peace-loving Filipinos must condemn the attacks on civilians by MILF, we must strongly resist the temptation to stereotype all Moros as violent or terrorists,” Tamano said in a statement.
“The vast majority of Filipino Muslims are law-abiding citizens who want nothing more than to find decent jobs and education for their children, just like all other Filipinos,” he added.
“We must not allow the situation to degenerate into a generalized anti-Muslim sentiment which is unfair and will ultimately be a death-blow to the dream of creating a lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said.
Tamano earlier said the unprovoked attacks on civilians “certainly does not help convince those against the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on ancestral domain between the government and MILF negotiation panels.”
He called the attacks “immoral, Un-Islamic and un-Christian.”
Tamano, along with former Senate President Franklin Drilon, and Liberal Party President Sen. Mar Roxas openly supported the opposition raised by Mindanao local officials against the proposed MOA. They were able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court to stop its scheduled signing last Aug. 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
At the same time, Tamano said all peace advocacy groups, whether they supported the MOA or not, should now take a firm stand against the recent atrocities in Central Mindanao that has claimed dozens of lives and displaced thousands of villagers..
Tamano earlier called on all Mindanao leaders “to make a strong and unqualified call to end all hostilities between the government and the MILF.”
“Now is not the time for blame and finger-pointing but for statesmanship on all sides. I challenge all our leaders to set aside their own agenda and make an unequivocal call for peace and unity,” he said.