DAVAO CITY (October 2, 2018) — The Philippines’ peacebuilding initiatives continue to receive recognition and draw in strong support from other countries.
This was evident as Finland Ambassador to the Philippines Petri Puhakka paid a courtesy call on Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Monday at the Marco Polo Hotel in this city.
During their discussion, Dureza briefed Puhakka on the Comprehensive Philippine Peace Process, particularly on the salient provisions of the recently-passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and how the landmark measure will impact on the lives of the people in the region.
“We are now at the (information and education) campaign stage. We want people to better understand (the law),” Dureza said.
He said he is confident the Bangsamoro people will vote for the passage of the landmark measure in the plebiscite scheduled in January 2019.
“I have very high expectations (it will be supported) by the people,” he said.
The two officials also discussed possible areas of collaboration between their respective countries.
These include a proposal in which Finland would provide capacity-building assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“We really need your help to capacitate the people,” Dureza said.
He said the Philippines’ peace process should not mainly focus on peace talks but on the creation of more economic opportunities for the people.
“We need to improve the lives of people. Development is very important,” he said.
Dureza likewise underscored the need to involve civil society in the peace and development process.
“There should always be inclusiveness in our work for peace. We need to make people feel that they don’t need to resort to violence for them to be noticed by government,” he said.
Dureza also briefed Puhakka on the status of the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front, which had been cancelled by President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said, however, that the door for talks with the rebel group are “still open” and could resume once there is an “enabling environment.”
In the meantime, he said the President has authorized local government officials to conduct localized peace engagements with the rebels.
“Local leaders know the situation on the ground,” he said.
Dureza thanked the ambassador for the assistance Finland has been providing to the Philippines over the years.
“Thank you very much for your help. Your support will go a long way,” he said.
For his part, Puhakka assured Dureza of his country’s continued support for the Philippines’ quest for lasting peace and sustainable development.
“We are happy to do our part to help,” Puhakka said, noting that change will not happen overnight. “The people will need to manage their expectations,” he said.
The meeting between the two officials was facilitated by the Non-Violent Peace Force, an international non-profit organization that encourages dialogue among parties involved in armed conflict. ###