About Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process or OPAPP is the office mandated to oversee, coordinate, and integrate the implementation of the comprehensive peace process. The agency was created through executive order no. 125, s. 1993 which was later amended in 2001 with the signing of executive order no. 3, s. 2001 as a reaffirmation of the government’s commitment to achieving just and lasting peace through a comprehensive peace process.

Peace stakeholders jumpstart Bangsamoro normalization trust fund

QUEZON CITY, July 25, 2018 – Shortly after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) by both the Senate and House of Representatives, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Implementing Panels underwent a workshop to jumpstart the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF).

In his speech, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza expressed his gratitude to all those who helped in the passage of the organic law. “All of us brought this milestone here,” he said.

MILF Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal said while the organic law is “not a perfect law,” it is “more than enough to start with.”

He said the MILF and the government have become “partners” for peace and the fulfillment of Bangsamoro aspirations.

“After the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the situation between the two partners have improved very much,” Iqbal said.

For his part, GPH Implementing Panel Nabil A. Tan said the bigger work now looming is the implementation of the CAB.

He said the Normalization program under the CAB “will be in full swing as all of us strive to accomplish the noble task towards just and lasting peace.”

Signed in 2014, the CAB is the final peace agreement between the GPH and MILF. It is the culmination of 17 years of negotiations between the two parties and will pave the way for genuine and meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro.

Normalization is a process whereby communities in the Bangsamoro can achieve their desired quality of life in a peaceful manner.

Included in the Annex on Normalization is the need to establish a Trust Fund to create an avenue for international donors and their partners to efficiently release urgent support for the Bangsamoro.

The BNTF Terms of Reference was signed by both GPH and MILF on May 30, 2016, reaffirming their steadfast commitment in moving the peace forward in the Bangsamoro.

Aside from the aim of supporting the normalization, the BNTF will also assist in the development of six previously acknowledged MILF camps, with the end in view of transforming these areas into peaceful and productive communities.

As outlined in its terms of reference, the purpose of the BNTF is to finance, coordinate, and oversee the delivery of assistance from international partners and other donors in the implementation of the normalization process.

Representatives of peace mechanisms on the ground as well as international donors are also present at the ongoing workshop. They are expected to share their expertise and insights to come up with a program design and activities reflective of a peaceful future of the Bangsamoro.

These programs and activities can potentially be funded by the BNTF.

Peace mechanisms present include Task Force Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities, Joint Task Force Camps Transformation, Joint Normalization Committee, Joint Peace and Security Committee, Independent Decommissioning Body, and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation.

Representatives from the World Bank, and United Nations Development Programme are also present to facilitate during the workshop. ###


Celebration greets BOL ratification

QUEZON CITY, July 24, 2018 – After an unexpected delay, the House of Representatives under new House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law today.

This is a momentous celebration not only for our Muslim brothers and sisters but also to us Filipinos. We hope that this is the key towards just and lasting peace,” Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Nabil Tan said.

Tan, who also chairs the Government Implementing Panel, said despite their differences, “the members of the committee have united to reconcile a Bangsamoro law that promotes the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.”

“This is one big step in pursuing genuine and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

The BOL was supposed to have been ratified by the House of Representatives on Monday, in time for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign it before his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

A leadership change, however, prevented the ratification from happening.

Still, Duterte gave assurance during his SONA that he would sign the organic law within two days,

When the approved version is transmitted and received by my office… Give me 48 hours to sign it and ratify the law. Babasahin ko pa bago ko pipirmahan (I have to read it first before I sign it),” Duterte had said.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Ebrahim Murad expressed gratitude for the ratification of the BOL. “We thank the new leadership of the House and we hope that this is the key in moving forward,” he said.

International ambassadors supporting the country’s peace process also joined in the celebration.

“It is wonderful to witness Philippine history as the Senate adopts the bicameral report on the BOL – the dawn of new beginning for Mindanao,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely said.

Different sectors also expressed joy at the realization of the Bangsamoro people’s aspirations at the legislative level.

“This is truly a historic day for our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters. With the approval of the BOL and the President’s assurance of signing it immediately, the dream for peace, justice and progress is at last becoming a reality. We rejoice with the Bangsamoro people on this momentous occasion,” said Rev. Dr. Aldrin Peñamora, Co-Convenor of Joint Working Group of Religious Leaders for Peace and Executive Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.

In a statement, the Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogues in Southeast Asia said: “The milestone in our Bangsamoro history is also a sign of unity and progress. It is an antidote to the years of conflict and strife, and hopefully will usher in a new era of healing between all Filipino peoples.”

President Duterte is expected to sign the BOL within 48 hours. ###

PRRD vows to sign BOL within 48 hours

QUEZON CITY, July 23, 2018 – “Give me 48 hours to sign it.”

This was President Rodrigo Duterte’s assurance to the people after the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) suffered a debacle when the House of Representatives failed to ratify the law when its session was abruptly adjourned earlier today.

“When the approved version is transmitted and received by my office… The law has been passed actually and I intend to… Give me 48 hours to sign it and ratify the law. Babasahin ko pa bago ko pipirmahan (I have to read it first before I sign it),” Duterte said in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“I make the solemn commitment that this administration will never deny our Muslim brothers and sisters the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within this constitutional framework of our country,” the President added.

Duterte had been expected to sign the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” before delivering his SONA. Earlier in the day, the Senate adopted and ratified the bicameral conference committee version of the Bangsamoro Organic Law during its third regular session.

At the House of Representatives, however, a sudden and unexpected adjournment kept members from ratifying it.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said the failure to ratify was unfortunate “but it had nothing to do with the BOL itself. It was due to some leadership issues internal to the House of Representatives.”

“The BOL suffered this temporary setback, as a ‘collateral damage’ to an internal leadership issue in the House, but I trust and expect that in due time, the ratification which it deserves will take place as a matter of course,” he added.

The President’s assurance gave hope it would not take long before the law is signed.

In his SONA, Duterte said the country would need “loads of understanding and patience to endure and overcome the birth pangs or pains of the new beginning.”

“Mindanao was dubbed as The Land of Promise… (and) we are now in the process of fulfilling that promise through significant increases in the budget for Mindanao. At the end of my term, I hope to see the promise of Mindanao fulfilled, or at the very least, approaching fulfilment,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the passage of the law will usher in a new chapter of peace and prosperity in Mindanao.

“I believe that is the dawn of the new beginning for Mindanao. A dawn of peace followed by unhampered prosperity for our region,” he said. ###

Dureza: Gov’t still open to peace talks with NDFP

HAGONOY, DAVAO DEL SUR (JULY 5, 2018) — “The doors for peace negotiations with the communist rebels are still open.”

This was the announcement made by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G.  Dureza during the celebration of the 65th Araw ng Hagonoy at the municipal capitol here.

Dureza bared that during a command conference held in Malacañang last night, President Rodrigo Duterte laid down his four “wishes” that would make the peace talks possible between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The command conference was attended by top officials of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“First, there will be no coalition government. Second, there will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax,” he said.

“Third, the venue of the talks will be local. And fourth, there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas,” Dureza added.

He, however, said that in case these “wishes” are not adhered to by the NDFP, local government units can still proceed with “localized peace engagements.”

Dureza pointed out that this move could be a viable option because LGUs “can find a way to connect to the rebels.”

“Because you (LGUs) know them, you can help them,” he said.

According to the peace adviser, those who are fighting government are doing so not because of ideology but due to a more basic reason.

“They are going against government because of need,” Dureza said.

“That’s why they burn equipment, do extortion activities. Government doesn’t want this to happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dureza said he is optimistic President Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on July 23, the day he will deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Both houses of Congress are set to hold bicameral sessions from July 9 to 13 in order to come up with a unified version of the BBL based on the respective substitute bills approved in the Lower House and Senate.

Dureza said that with the passage of the BBL, areas that have been left behind will be prioritized and given the attention they truly deserve.

“I believe that better things are ahead of us,” he said. ###

Locals execs express gratitude for PAMANA projects

DIPOLOG CITY, July 04 2018 – Local government units of Zamboanga del Norte thanked the national government for implementing projects in their communities that are focused on livelihood and poverty alleviation.
Sibuco Mayor Norbideiri Edding affirmed this during the Midterm Assessment of PAMANA (PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn) projects conducted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) with its stakeholders in the province of Zamboanga del Norte last July 3, 2018.
Malaking bagay talaga ang naitutulong nito [PAMANA] sa communities — sa’min sa grassroots level – kasi more on poverty alleviation programs and livelihood siya (PAMANA has a huge impact on our communities – on us who are at the grassroots level – because its projects are more on poverty alleviation and livelihood),” Edding said.
Nagpapasalamat kami sa (We thank) OPAPP that we were included because we need all the help we can get as far as developing our communities is concerned,” he added.
Edding also thanked the government’s initiative to include all stakeholders in the assessment because it gave them the opportunity to discuss their issues regarding the project implementation.
“Our objective is to provide alleviating programs para sa mga conflict-affected na constituents natin (Our objective is to provide alleviating programs for our conflict-affected constituents),” he said.
“So these programs are really helping our communities. And ‘yong mga insurgents natin na nando’n sa kabilang side, they were given the chance to change and be reintegrated with the communities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Gamar Janihim from the municipality of Sirawai cited an example of how the PAMANA projects had positive impacts in his communities.
Ipalagay mo na lang ‘yong communal irrigation, imbis na ‘yong ani ng mga farmers ay isa sa isang taon, dahil sa irrigation magiging apat na sa isang taon. So malaki talaga ang nadudulot ng PAMANA projects sa community (Let’s cite communal irrigation as an example: our farmers can harvest four times in one year instead of their usual one harvest per year. That’s why PAMANA projects really bring big changes in our community),” he said.
Janihim also conveyed his gratitude both on the projects implemented in his municipality and the assessment conducted in the city.
Masaya ako na naimbitahan dito para malahad ko rin ‘yong problema sa community. Ang kagandahan nito kasi makikita natin kung papaano ‘yong implementations, kailan, kung nade-delay ba ang proyekto, at naa-update ba kami (I am happy to be invited here in the midterm assessment because I can share our problems in the community. Another good thing from this assessment is that we can know the process of implementation, its timeline, status, and regular updates to us),” he said.
During his closing remarks, OPAPP Director Sherwin Vizconde thanked the province’s LGUs for taking the time to discuss their respective projects to them.
“We in OPAPP are very hopeful that the much coveted just and lasting peace will become a reality. Kung hindi man sa ating lifetime, then to the next generation. We are here to plant the seeds of hope, of peace,” he said.
The Zamboanga del Norte forum was the second to the last of assessments conducted by OPAPP aimed to determine the status of PAMANA projects’ physical and financial progress as well as the ways to move forward in order to enhance the project’s implementation. ###

Australia shares PH desire to end conflict, push development

MAKATI CITY, 03 May 2018 – The Australian government today affirmed its commitment to assisting the Philippines in its peace and development initiatives, saying it shares the Filipinos’ desire to end conflict and achieve just and lasting peace.

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Senator for New South Wales and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, gave the statement during a breakfast forum spearheaded by the Australian Embassy and the Albert Del Rosario Research Institute earlier today in this city.

Noting Australia’s more than 20 years of partnership with the Philippines in peacebuilding and development, Fierravanti-Wells said her country is “committed to support peace and development in Mindanao.”

“We recognize the ongoing challenges in the peace process, and we share with the Filipinos your basic desire to end this conflict and have just and lasting peace,” she said.

Fierravanti-Wells highlighted the importance of the participation of women in the peace process and their role in curbing the rise of violent extremism. She also recognized the role of youth, indigenous peoples, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the peace process.

In his remarks, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza expressed the Philippines’ gratitude to Australia in supporting the country in development and peacebuilding.

“We have seen your work not only in trying to address the present challenges in the peace process, but I also think that your assistance in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao through capacity building, is just as important,” Dureza said.

He said the peace process must go hand-in-hand with development in order to improve the lives of the Filipinos.

Australia currently supports multilateral and bilateral programs in Mindanao such as the Mindanao Trust Fund, PRIME Bangsamoro, and the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities.

Barangay leaders key to BBL passage — Roque

PASAY CITY, April 24, 2018 — Kayong mga barangay leaders – nasa inyong mga kamay ang pagpapanalo ng BBL.”(Barangay leaders, the passage of BBL is all in your hands.)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. made this pitch in his keynote message at the forum for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with the Liga ng mga Barangay – Mindanao Chapter held yesterday at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

Malinaw po na kaya tayo nandito ay para masigurado na pagdating ng plebisito, overwhelming na ‘oo’ ang iboboto ng ating mga kababayan (It is clear that the reason we are here is we want to make sure that during the plebiscite, there would be an overwhelming ‘yes’ from our countrymen),” he said.

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has given full support to the law, believing that it will solve the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao. He also said the Senate and the House of Representatives have already promised to pass the BBL.

Tingin ko naman ang ating mga botante ay maniniwala na kapag sinabi ng Presidente na ang solusyon sa problema ng labanan sa Mindanao ay BBL, lahat po sila [voters] ay boboto ng oo sa plebisito (I think the voters will believe that when the President says the BBL is the solution to the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao, all of them will vote yes in the plebiscite),” Roque said.

The forum with barangay leaders aimed to provide a brief background of the historical injustices committed against the Moro people. It also gave an overview of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the salient points of the BBL.

Lawmakers have committed to pass the BBL by the end of May this year. ###


BBL gets backing of Mindanao barangay leaders

PASAY CITY, 23 April 2018 — More than 300 barangay leaders from Mindanao expressed their strong support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a forum held today at the SMX Convention Center.

Liga ng mga Barangay ng Mindanao Vice President Gerard M. Ramiro, in his opening remarks, said the group “fully trusts the wisdom behind the BBL and the development of the Muslim Mindanao being led by the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

Ramiro thanked the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for involving the barangay leaders in the country’s peace work.

“Awareness and knowledge of history are the bedrock of commitment and common understanding to resolve the long conflict and aim for freedom in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

“Through this, we now have a better grasp of the significance of the BBL in the development of Mindanao and the rest of the country,” he added.

To formalize the local leaders’ commitment, the league released a resolution declaring full support for the BBL.

The resolution states that the BBL is “the only option left to end the bloodshed between peoples in Mindanao, the land of promise.”


Understanding the past

In his presentation titled “Understanding the Moro Struggle in the Philippines,” Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal narrated the history of the Moro struggle, citing historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro that include loss of sovereignty, land dispossession, and massacres.

Kailangan natin maintindihan ang nakaraan, upang maintindihan natin ang kasalukuyan (We need to understand the past in order to understand the present),” Iqbal said.


Frontliners for peace

In a video message, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza emphasized the importance of dialogue in the work for peace.

Mahalaga na mayroon tayong pagpupulong tungkol sa trabaho natin at sa kapayapaan ng ating bansa (It’s important that we have discussions about our work and for peace in the country),” he said.

For his part, OPAPP Undersecretary Ronald I. Flores recognized the unwavering support of barangay officials in promoting peace in their respective communities.

Alam naming hindi lubos na mapagtatagumpayan ang hangarin natin para sa kapayapaan kung hindi namin kayo kasama

(We know that we cannot fully achieve peace if you do not join us),” he said.

In his message, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil A. Tan underscored the local leaders’ role as front liners in the peace process in the communities, calling them “very important partners.”

He also said they are the “greatest beneficiaries for peace.”

The Forum on the BBL was organized by Liga ng mga Barangay ng Mindanao and OPAPP. Also present in the event were the commissioners of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) who provided information on the BBL.

The forum aimed to impart the salient points of the BBL to the members of the barangay association.

It also sought to deepen their understanding of the historical context of the Moro struggle and discuss the roles of the local government units in the future Bangsamoro.

Dureza: Peacebuilding should be done ‘peace by piece’

DAVAO CITY, April 16, 2018 “We must work peace by piece.”

This was how Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza described government’s peacebuilding strategy, which has been the key in effectively dealing with the various rebel groups across the country.

“We can’t do this overnight. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past. We must learn to do things better,” Dureza said in his message during the Annual Plenary Session of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines held here on Monday.

He said inclusivity has been the guiding principle of the Duterte administration as it seeks to find a long-lasting solution to the armed conflict that has plagued the nation for decades.

Dureza said this has also been the mindset that has enabled the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to move forward in Congress.

“It is President Duterte’s commitment to pass the BBL,” the government’s top peace negotiator said, explaining that in order to make this promise a reality, President Rodrigo Duterte knew that the voices of other stakeholders had to be heard.

This inclusivity led to the expansion of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) original membership from 15 to 21, three of them members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Dureza said although the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will have a “first stake” in the establishment of the proposed Bangsamoro state and government, the MNLF will also be an integral part of “the bigger leadership.”

Meanwhile, Dureza said the Duterte administration has adopted a more realistic approach in dealing with the communist rebels.

He admitted that there is a “wide gap” that must be bridged between the two parties, with the government working “within the parameters of the Constitution.”

He said this is why there must be a “convergence point” in which both groups “can meet halfway.”

Dureza had announced on April 4 that the President had directed him and the government panel to work on the resumption of peace talks with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), with specific instructions to forge a ceasefire agreement

Dureza stressed that proposals for capitulation or surrender should not be brought up during the negotiations, saying there are more “creative” ways of negotiating with the rebel organization.

“The key is to find an ‘alternative route,’” he said. “You can’t kill an idea. You have to address the root cause why they are rebelling,” he added.

Dureza cited the example of the GPH-MILF peace process in which the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) was established even while the peace negotiations between the government and the rebel group was ongoing.

“You have to make them feel that they are already benefitting,” he said. “There is also a need to take care of the bigger public who also feel they are being deprived,” he added.

Dureza also emphasized that the Duterte administration wants to carry out the negotiations at a “faster pace.”

“As President Duterte has said, this is already our last chance (to forge a peace agreement),” he said. ###

Dureza: Duterte determined to bring peace to the country

MANILA, April 12, 2018 —  President Rodrigo Duterte’s determination to end the decades-old insurgency in the country is the key factor in opening up the talks with the Reds, the presidential adviser on the peace process said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines this morning, Office the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said the resumption of talks is in line with the President’s “personal advocacy (and) ambition” as well as his “mission and vision.”

“He (President Duterte) would like to bring sustainable and just peace in the land,” Secretary Dureza said. “He understands very well coming from a place like Davao, where he dealt with them (New People’s Army) directly, and he would like to address the root cause of the problem.”

During the Cabinet meeting last April 4, President Duterte ordered Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who is the chief government negotiator with the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army–National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), to work on the resumption of talks with directives to forge a ceasefire agreement.

Dureza also pointed out that the President is taking into consideration the public’s desire to conclude the conflict.

“I’m sure it’s not only him (President Duterte) that is very anxious to have that conclusion, pati ang taong bayan nag-eexpect,” he said.

According to Dureza, the President has given a two-month timeline to reopen the talks, which stalled in November 2017 due to escalated violence on the ground.

“We’ll work on it definitely and the way you listen to the other side, (CPP Founder) Joma Sison says he welcome all this. I think they will be with us to start it early,” he said. ###