Dureza lauds Mindanao business community for economic progress in the region

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, October 25, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza lauded the Mindanao business community for its role in the island region’s “amazing transformation.”

In a letter read for him by OPAPP’s Conflict Prevention and Management Unit Director Ferdinand Jovita on Wednesday at the 7th Mindanao Business Leaders and Entrepreneur Awards here in this city, Dureza said the economic progress that Mindanao is experiencing now is due to the major contributions made by the business community.

“You are the force behind the island region’s amazing transformation. You are among the reasons Mindanao is no longer considered the hotbed of a raging, decades-old insurgency but a land of vast opportunity and promise,” Dureza said.

Saying peace and development must be pursued simultaneously, Dureza underscored the programs and initiatives that the government is undertaking to move peace forward especially in conflict-affected areas across the southern region.

“This is exactly what we are trying to do in Mindanao, particularly in the implementation of programs and projects in conflict-affected communities. None of these development initiatives will succeed unless they are anchored on the principles of peace, cooperation, and solidarity,” he said.

Ending his message, Dureza urged the business leaders to take a proactive role in peace building.

“May all of you continue to carry out your mission of not only helping create more economic opportunities for our fellow Mindanaoans but, more importantly, take part in the collective effort to bring just and enduring peace in our island-region,” he said.

 

The 7th Mindanao Business Leaders and Entrepreneur Awards was held to recognize entrepreneurs who made valuable contributions in fostering economic growth in the region. ###

By | October 25th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Dureza: Lumad can play a key role in peacebuilding

MARILOG DISTRICT, DAVAO CITY, October 25, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza highlighted the crucial role of local tribal members in peacebuilding, particularly in resolving situations of conflict in their communities.

“You should use your voices. We in government will provide the platform,” Dureza said during the Multi-Stakeholders Peace Forum and Dialogue organized by the Non-Violent Peace Force and supported by the Embassy of Finland.

He noted that indigenous people (IPs) are among the most affected when armed hostilities between government troops and rebel forces break out.

“You, the Lumad, are the ones caught in the crossfire. It is therefore important that we engage you,” Dureza told almost a hundred representatives of the Matigsalog tribe attending the forum.

According to the peace adviser, around 80 percent of those recruited by insurgent groups are Lumad residing in the countryside.

“They (IPs) are the ones easily recruited,” Dureza said.

He said the reason is that those who take part in armed struggle are driven by a perception that they have been forgotten by government and their needs are being ignored.

“They don’t have schools. They are very poor. They don’t have food on their tables,” he said.

Dureza said this is the reason the Duterte Administration is implementing the “whole-of-government approach,” an integrated and holistic strategy of providing much-needed services to communities situated in remote, underdeveloped communities.

“All the government agencies must be involved in this effort. This is why we are here to listen to your concerns. We will amplify your voices,” he said.

Dureza said due to the cancellation of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the national government is encouraging the conduct of localized peace engagements with the rebels.


He said while the guidelines for these locally-initiated discussions are still being finalized, they are seen as an effective strategy of addressing the country’s decades-long insurgency problem.

“LGUs (local government units) know best who are the ones they should talk to and engage. They (LGUs) are the ones who can find the best solutions,” Dureza said.

Using the “chicken-and-egg analogy,” Dureza emphasized that peace and development should not come one after the other but should happen simultaneously.

“We need to help improve the lives of the people. Peace and development should go hand in hand,” Dureza said.

He said there is now a “greater focus” on the part of the national government to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country.

Although Dureza said the window is still open for the resumption of the peace talks with the communist rebels, the main objective of government is to end the conflict and bring sustainable development to marginalized communities.

“This is easier said than done. Our goal is to put an end to the armed conflict,” he said. ###

By | October 25th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, Indigenous Peoples, News|0 Comments

Dureza stresses importance of inclusivity in peace, dev’t projects

PASIG CITY, September 19, 2018 – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza today emphasized the need for peace and development programs to benefit not just a few people but the entire community.

“It is very important that while implementing these projects, there is transparency and inclusivity, meaning we should not only touch those who know us personally, or those who support us politically,” he said.

Dureza made the statement at the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and selected Local Government Units (LGU) to formally launch the Community Peace Dividends Fund (CPDF) Program in this city.

The CPDF is a peace and development program of OPAPP that aims to develop, monitor, and implement conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting livelihood projects.

It is supported by the Spanish Government through the Agencia Española Cooperación Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID).

Dureza signed the MOU on behalf of OPAPP, with Tadian, Mountain Province Mayor Anthony Wooden, Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte Mayor Hermogenes Cordova, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon Mayor Reynante Inocando, and Esperanza, Agusan del Sur Sangguniang Bayan Member Nathaniel Cabactulan.

H.E. Amaya Fuentes-Milani, Chargé d’Affaires, Ad interim and Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Spain to the Philippines, and AECID Coordinator General Juan Pita witnessed the signing of the MOU.

“Spain and AECID’s support to this initiative of the Government to implement livelihood projects that are conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting in fragile communities that have gone through conflict, or still suffering from issues of unpeace, is greatly appreciated” Secretary Dureza said.

“Hopefully, this (program) will provide a template, a model we can apply to other areas,” he added.

The program follows the following three contexts: (a) areas under peace agreement implementation or post-conflict situation where the whole bureaucracy of government is addressing the peace and development concerns in these areas; (b) conflict-affected areas where parallel development can be initiated while the peace negotiations are ongoing; and (c) in areas where indigenous peoples are predominant.

The selected areas are identified based on a set of criteria approved by the Project Steering Committee and validated by the Conflict and Vulnerability Index formulated by OPAPP.

The provincial government officials, the security sector, and civil society organizations chose the final municipalities and barangays during the provincial orientation and consultations conducted by the agency.

Fuentes-Milani expressed her optimism that the program “will benefit the communities and will bring together women and men, indigenous groups, elders and youth, to discuss about their priorities and facilitate the path towards a peaceful coexistence.“

“The Government of Spain values the partnership with OPAPP and will remain committed to supporting peace and development in the Philippines as our key priorities,” she said. ###

 

By | September 19th, 2018|CBA-CPLA, CPP-NPA-NDF, Indigenous Peoples, MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Dureza: Door to talks with Reds still ‘wide open’

QUEZON CITY, September 12, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza today assured the members of the House of Representatives that the government will remain open to the resumption of talks with the communists.

During a meeting with the House Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation, Dureza said that the government peace panel “will continue to pursue the effort in the resumption of peace negotiation.”

“At this point, we still adhere to the statement that the door is still wide open and we will be considering moving towards that,” he said.

The peace adviser reiterated President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s wishes before talks can resume, namely: 1) there should be no coalition government; 2) there should be no collection of revolutionary tax; 3) the venue of the talks should local; and 4) there should be a ceasefire during which members of the New People’s Army would encamp in designated areas.

Dureza said while the government’s current approach is pursuing localized peace talks, he also recognized that negotiations are vital in addressing the root causes of armed struggle.

“We know very well that we cannot finish the insurgency problem by military or police action at all. We have to address the social issues and it can be done if we engage the other side,” he said.

For his part, Government Peace Panel Chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III downplayed the exchange of words between Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and President Duterte, saying these would not hinder the resumption of talks.

“The exchange of words is actually an exchange of words between good friends,” he said.

The House Committee tackled House Resolution 1803 urging President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace negotiations with the communists and House Bill 5669 which seeks to establish a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program for the Bangsamoro.

The committee adopted both the resolution and the bill. ###

 

By | September 12th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, News|0 Comments

Dureza: Peace table now wide open for all

DAVAO CITY, September 2, 2018 — “The peace table is now wide open for everybody.”

This was declared by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza during the launch of National Peace Consciousness Month at the Rizal Park in this city.


Dureza was referring to the larger peace table, the general public, who he said should be at the forefront of the peace process between the national government and the various rebel groups.

“This table is not only for the Muslims, for the New People’s Army, for the indigenous peoples, but for all Filipinos,” he said.


Dureza noted that peace agreements signed between government and rebel organizations will not succeed if these do not have the support of the general public.

Citing the recently approved Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), he said the landmark measure was passed due to the desire of the Duterte Administration to uplift the lives of the people and make development as inclusive as possible.

“With the BOL’s passage, we will no longer walk but run for peace,” Dureza said.


In the meantime, the peace adviser underscored the need for the government to focus on the plight of underprivileged sectors such as the Lumad.


“We need to make them feel that they have not been forgotten by government and their needs are being attended to,” he said.

He said the the nation’s indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable when conflict arises in their communities.

“They are the ones who are caught in the crossfire,” he said.

Dureza said this is one of the reasons it is easy for communist rebels to recruit Lumad, who he said make up 80 percent of new members.

He said this is why the government’s programs and projects aim to empower IPs and make them part of the mainstream of development.

He said as the nation celebrates the month of peace, it is important for stakeholders to highlight their efforts to help bring long-lasting peace and sustainable development throughout the country. ###

Dureza urges Surigao del Norte rebels to return to civilian life

Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte, August 28, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza today urged local rebels here to stop fighting so that development can continue in the area.

Ang gusto ng ating Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte, kung pwede ‘di na tayo mag-away. ‘Di na tayo magpatayan. Magkaisa na tayo (What President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants is for us to stop fighting. Let’s stop killing each other. Let’s be united instead),” Dureza said in his message at the inauguration of the LASICAM Bridge in Barangay Sico-Sico on Tuesday.

Magbalik na kayo nang bukal sa inyong puso. Malaki ang suporta sa inyo ng Presidente (Come back to the folds of the law wholeheartedly. The President is giving you a lot of support),” he added.

The bridge passes through the three barangays of Lahi, Sico-Sico, and Camam-onan in the Municipality of Gigaquit — known stronghold corridors of local insurgents in Surigao del Norte for decades.

The project will benefit more than 3,000 residents by giving them access to socio-economic services carried out by the national and local government. The bridge will also give local farmers and residents better access to market sites.

Dureza said the bridge is part of government’s emphasis on working on peace and development simultaneously.

“You cannot sustain peace if you do not improve the lives of people. Conversely, you cannot also sustain development without peace. Dapat iyan, hand-in-hand,” he said.

For her part, Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas extended her gratitude to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for funding the project through the 2015 PAyapa at MAsaganang  PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program – calling the completed project “Bridge of Hope” (Tulay nan Paglaum).

Itong tulay ang magsisilbing daan para sa mga bisita. Maraming mga proyekto ang darating upang ang mga nakatira dito ay maging mapayapa at masagana (This bridge will serve as the way for visitors. Many projects will be brought here so that residents can live in peace and prosperity),” Matugas said.

Speaking on behalf of the Mamanwa Tribe within the community, Datu Emilliano Jede recalled how their people endured walking for one whole day just to reach the town proper.

“Dati, pag papunta kaming bayan, magkalakad kami nang isang araw. Ngayon, dahil may kalsada na, sandali lang makakarating na kami sa bayan (We used to spend a whole day walking to the town. With this road, we can reach it in a short time),” Jede said.

All in all, a total of P210 million was allocated for the implementation of the project. OPAPP tapped the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as implementing partner.

The inauguration, which coincided with the launch of Caraga Peace and Development Zones that includes Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, attracted nearly 300 attendees, including locals from Barangay Sico-sico and representatives from OPAPP, DILG, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the local government units. ###

By | August 28th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, News, PAMANA, PAMANA|0 Comments

Dureza lauds DAP’S planned course on peace

PASIG CITY, August 15, 2018 – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza today discussed ways to promote peace and development in Mindanao at the ‘Kartilya’ forum organized by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).

In his speech, Dureza said one of these is the planned development of a “peace course” that will be taught by DAP.

He said he himself is interested in attending the course because of the academic perspective it can offer.

Dureza also underscored the importance of sustaining peace and development side-by-side, saying every Filipino will benefit from the relative peace the government continuously pursues.

“The Duterte peace and development paradigm must go hand-in-hand and not one after the other. While we are trying to work on peace, you also notice that there is also a lot of things to work on in economic development,” he said.

Dureza expressed confidence in DAP’s capacity to assist the government in providing technical assistance relation to Mindanao’s development.

“DAP is one of the institutions that can make things happen – things that are still being discussed theoretically but that DAP is (already) trying to put into action,” he said.

Also speaking during the forum, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto said the local governments should be the leading agents in Mindanao’s advancement.

“Development must start from the leaders of communities, particularly the local government,” he said.

In his message, DAP President Engelbert Caronan Jr. commended the progress that Mindanao has gone through.

“There is little understanding how a transition can affect the whole country. We (DAP) realize how far Mindanao has come and how far it still needs to go. We can do more,” Caronan said.

The Kartilya forum was aimed at starting discussions on emerging issues and prospects that could be developed in Mindanao, particularly on the next steps forward after the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ###

By | August 15th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, Indigenous Peoples, MILF, MNLF, News, PAMANA|0 Comments

Sorsogon’s seaweed farming industry on verge of revival

SORSOGON CITY, July 28, 2018 — Cherry Legaspi can vividly recall when the Province of Sorsogon made a name for itself as one of the biggest seaweed producers in the region back in the day.

Working at the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist for decades, Cherry saw how hard the province worked to meet the demand for raw dried seaweed in other parts of the Bicol Region and even Cebu.

“Noong 1990s ang seaweed sa probinsya, napakaganda. Pumupunta pa rito ang mga barko galing Cebu, halos lahat dito kumukuha sa province (The seaweed production in the province was very good back in the 1990s. Ships from as far away as Cebu would come here to get their supply),” Cherry said in an interview.

But in early 2000s, the seaweed industry in the province faced a gradual decline. Local fisherfolk had to depend solely on fishing to make ends meet.

In 2017, the provincial government learned of the 2017 PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and decided to seize the opportunity it presented.

“Noong 2017, humingi ang PAMANA ng proposal. So kami naman sa fisheries division gumawa ng proposal to intensify and revive the seaweed production (PAMANA asked for proposals in 2017. So we in the fisheries division submitted a proposal to intensify and revive seaweed production),” Cherry said.

Through the 2017 PAMANA Program, OPAPP worked hand-in-hand with the provincial government to give the seaweed industry a brand new start.

A total of P22 million was allocated for the province. Of this amount, P17 million was spent for the construction of post-harvest facilities while P5 million was allotted for the production of a 16-hectare seaweed farm.

Fourteen fisherfolk organizations with more than 300 individual members across the province went through extensive training for skills that would help them sustain their own seaweed farms.

Rica Abla, an officer of one the organizations, said the project is an alternative livelihood to fishing especially now that there has been a significant decline in fish catch.

“Kasi ngayon ramdam ang hirap, ramdam din ang kakulangan. Dumami na rin iyong mga mangingisda, may time talaga na kulang (iyong huli). So iyong seaweed na iyon, magiging alternative para papahingahin muna ang karagatan (These days we really feel the hardship. And because the number of fishermen has increased, there are times when the catch is really small. Seaweed production will be a good alternative as we let the waters recover),” Rica said.

“So itong programa ng OPAPP ay makakadagdag sa hanapbuhay para sa aming mga pamilya, at para sa pagpapa-aral ng mga anak. Kumbaga maitatawid namin iyong buhay sa ganitong paraan (This OPAPP program will add income to our families and allow us to continue sending our children to school. We can make ends meet through this),” she added.

For his part, Provincial Governor Robert Rodrigueza urged the communist rebels in the province to return and live a civilian life, saying this project will give them opportunities to live decent lives.

“Malaking tulong talaga sa mga mangingisda kaya sa nakikita ko, iyong ating mga kaibigan o kababayan dyan sa taas, mas mae-engganyo silang bumaba na dahil nandito ang gobyerno — nakabukas ang kamay handang tumulong sa kanila (This is a big help to fisherfolk, and I also see that our friends in the mountains can be enticed to come down as they realize that government is here and ready to help them),” Rodrigueza said.

As for Cherry, her hope remains that it will not be long before the Province of Sorsogon carves out its name again as one of the biggest players in the seaweed industry.

“With this project na funded ng OPAPP, baka ito na iyong susi na mabuhay ulit iyong industriya ng seaweed sa buong probinsya na makakatulong talaga sa fishing communities (This OPAPP-funded project can be the key to reviving the seaweed industry in the whole province and help the fishing communities),” she said. ###

By | July 28th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, News, PAMANA|0 Comments

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. ###

Dureza talks peace with Filipinos in New York

MANILA, April 27, 2018 – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza showcased the inclusive approach of the government in peacebuilding during a briefing with the Filipino community at the Philippine Consulate in New York City yesterday.

Fresh from his speaking engagements during the high-level meeting on peace and sustaining peace at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Secretary Dureza met with the group to underscore the importance of incorporating the public in the peace process.

“You have to address the bigger table. The bigger table is the public. Because even if I sign agreements with the smaller table (rebel groups), ‘pag hindi tinanggap ng publiko wala ding mangyayari (nothing will happen if the public does not accept it),” he said.

Citing the failure of the previous Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be passed by Congress in 2016, Dureza said legislators vote for measures consistent with the sentiments of their constituents.

Aside from engaging the general public, the peace adviser also emphasized the need to continue the dialogue with rebel groups that already have peace agreements with the government.

Mayroon pa tayong mga nagrebelde sa gobyerno na tumalima na ngayon (There are a number of rebels who have now come back to the folds of the law). We cannot just leave them alone,” he said.

The government is currently working on the completion of the peace process with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army/Cordillera Bodong Administration.

Dureza said in all the efforts the government is undertaking, there is also the need to improve the lives of the people affected by conflict.

“Our work for peace is not only negotiations now. It is also a nexus with development. Kailangan nating ma-improve ang lives ng mga tao sa mga areas na yan. Buong bayan sana kung pwede (We need to improve the lives of the people in those areas. The whole country if possible),” he said.  ###