CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (June 13, 2019) — More than 200 IP youth leaders from across Mindanao gathered here Wednesday to attend the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Youth Peace Assembly. (more…)
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. ###
PASIG CITY, October 02, 2018 – Knitting together the collective aspirations of peace from different stakeholders, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) unveiled on Friday its “Peace Quilt” in Davao City.
“Each piece of the quilt sewn together symbolizes the work we are doing in bridging and healing divides and mending the torn fabric of our society,” Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion said.
The Peace Quilt is a visualization of the various peace stakeholders’ commitment and how they will contribute to achieve these aspirations.
Civil society organizations, the academe, religious sector, local and international non-government organizations, and national and local government agencies contributed to the creation of the quilt, which was sewn together to form a much larger piece.
The Peace Quilt contains statements such as “The peaceful are the powerful” and “Peace through inclusive dialogues” as well as artworks and symbolisms representing indigenous groups, Moros, and Christians.
Messages of peace were also weaved into the quilt as a unique way of articulating the common goal of peace amidst diversity.
“The Peace Quilt is the people’s collective aspiration for a peaceful, secured, dignified and bountiful life,” Asuncion said.
The quilt formed part of the culmination of the month-long celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month on September 28. This year’s theme was “Mithiing Kapayapaan, Sama-Samang Isakatuparan.” ###
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. ###
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. ###
DAVAO CITY, August 26, 2018 — Eighteen-year-old Lisa Dacaw walked at least two hours early Sunday to have her firstborn child checked for cough and loose bowel movement. (more…)
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. ###
Magpet, Cotabato, August 13, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said the recently-passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will benefit not just certain groups or sectors but all those who desire peace and development in Mindanao.
“This (BOL) is not only for the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Bangsamoro people but for all,” Dureza told hundreds of residents gathered here for the 55th anniversary celebration of the Municipality of Magpet.
“There must be inclusivity, not exclusivity,” he said, emphasizing the fact that the historic law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27, recognizes the diversity and ethnicity of the people of Mindanao, especially the indigenous peoples (IPs).
“We really need to give attention to our Lumads. Each (tribal) group has its own perspective and concerns,” he said, noting that Magpet’s 29 barangays have Lumads in their respective populations.
“In our work for peace, we need to give importance to all (stakeholders),” he added.
Dureza said this is the reason why issues confronting Mindanao’s IPs should not be ignored but be decisively addressed by government.
He said working for peace is not an easy task and entails dealing with rebel organizations that have varied and competing ideologies.
Recognizing this reality, Dureza said the current peace and security situation in Mindanao cannot be resolved mainly through military force.
He noted that most of the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao are underdeveloped and poverty-stricken and therefore require a multi-pronged approach.
“We are not only negotiating for peace but also helping to improve the lives of the people,” he said.
Dureza said under the Duterte Administration’s Peace and Development Roadmap, it is crucial not only to sign peace agreements “but also to bring in development.”
He said peace and development should not happen one after the other but should take place simultaneously.
“Peace is needed to sustain development. They must come hand in hand,” he said.
In a separate consultation meeting with members of the Lumad community here, Dureza assured the IPs of the national government’s continued support.
He said this is the reason behind the establishment of the IP Peace Panel which is being headed by Atty. Reuben Lingating.
“You are among the most affected. We are not only here to listen but act on your concerns,” he said.
At the same meeting, Lingating noted that 28 years after the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) Law, Mindanao’s indigenous peoples still have to enjoy its benefits.
“Twenty eight years have passed but it seems there have been no changes in the lives of the people,” he said.
Lingating challenged the IPs to unite, plan, and work hard towards making their communities progressive.
“There must be convergence. It would be difficult to move on if you don’t have concrete plans,” he said. ###
COTABATO CITY, August 8, 2018 – More than 700 people flocked to the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex here today to celebrate and express their support for the newly-passed Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARRM or the Bangsamoro Organic Law).
Leading the ceremonial presentation of the historic law to the Bangsamoro community were Nabil Tan, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser and Chair of the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF peace accord, and MILF Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal.
The gathering comes in the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s presentation of the BOL to the MILF leadership in Malacañang last Monday.
The President said the law “would serve as the final trajectory for the attainment of genuine peace, stability and good governance in Muslim Mindanao.”
A new chapter
In his remarks in today’s event, Tan said the passage of the BOL is the start of a new chapter in the lives of the Bangsamoro people.
“This is just the beginning… Much work still needs to be done. We must now double our efforts,” he told the audience, which includes women, youth, business and civil society organizations, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps and foreign donor community.
Tan noted that both the Senate and House of Representatives made sure the landmark measure was crafted “within the bounds of the Philippine Constitution.”
He said the BOL is a vast improvement over the ARMM Organic Law (RA 9054) and the final peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996.
“This is ARMM plus-plus,” Tan said, explaining that with the passage of the BOL, more resources will now be poured into the region to accelerate its economic development.
These resources, he said, include an annual Block Grant that will be automatically appropriated to the BARMM government to fund its operations for the next 20 years.
Tan said a Special Development Fund will also be provided to fast-track the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas in the region.
He called on the Bangsamoro people to rally behind the BOL and vote for its upcoming ratification.
“We now have this law. The challenge now is how to make the Bangsamoro government work effectively,” he said.
Milestone in the peace process
For his part, Iqbal said the passage of the BOL signifies a milestone that was achieved by the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in the peace process.
He paid tribute to those who made huge sacrifices that led to the approval of the BOL, particularly members of the MILF leadership who have passed away.
He also lauded members of Congress for their firm support to the law, which he said aims to provide the Moro people meaningful autonomy and enable them to chart their political future through the democratic process.
“We urge you to value this agreement. This peace process is for everyone,” Iqbal said in his speech.
Call for unity
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the passage of the BOL is a truly momentous occasion for the Bangsamoro people.
“Inabot natin ang puntong ito dahil sa pagsasakripisyo (We have reached this point through sacrifice),” he said.
Hataman lauded the Philippine government and the MILF for ensuring the approval of the law, which is expected to bring long-lasting peace and sustainable development in the region.
He said the passage of the BOL is not meant to diminish the accomplishments of the ARMM government but seeks to build on its gains over the years.
“Hindi ito pagbubura ng ARMM (We are not erasing the ARMM),” Hataman said.
The ARMM governor said that the greater challenge confronting the Bangsamoro people now is how to ensure the successful implementation of the law.
“Nandito na ang bagong batas. Magkaisa tayo. Mas mahusay ito (The new law is now here. Let us unite behind it. This is a better law),” he said.
Pledges from legislators
Meanwhile, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Assistant Secretary Ma. Cecilia Papa read on behalf of Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas a prepared message addressed to the Bangsamoro people.
“The passage of this very important legislation is a testament to the sovereign Filipino people’s genuine recognition of the Bangsamoro people’s aspiration for a more meaningful autonomy,” Fariñas said.
“I pray that the BOL will now give hope to the Bangsamoro people because it is the Filipino people’s commitment to honor your history, to hear your narratives, and to heal the wounds caused by years of strife,” he added.
On the other hand, Iqbal, during a separate press conference, shared a message of support from Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
“Please let our Bangamoro brothers and sisters know that we in the Senate will exert all efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the BOL,” Zubiri said.
“That includes the budget for the plebiscite and the yearly Block Grant allocation, as well as the national program that will benefit the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” he added.
“I will continue to champion our cause in the Senate for the continued peace and prosperity for your region and for the whole of Mindanao,” Zubiri’s message concluded.
Civil society support BOL
At the same gathering, Hashim Manticayan, president of the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), expressed his group’s strong support to the law.
“The BOL is a good law to start with as some vital foundations for the future government will provide great opportunities to the Bangsamoro people to pursue their political, social, economic prosperities parallel to Filipinos in metropolitan and even developed Asian neighbors,” Manticayan said.
“It is imperative for all peace-loving people, especially our leaders, to set aside their self-interests and instead join hand-in-hand to give the BOL a chance to prosper,” he added.
Manticayan called on the Bangsamoro people, particularly the youth sector, to come out and vote for the ratification of the BOL this coming November.
“Now that we have the BOL, more than anything else, this is for the youth, the future generation of the Bangsamoro. They will be ones to reap all of these benefits,” he said.
Other personalities who gave their pledge of support during the event included Froilyn Mendoza representing women and indigenous peoples (IP) sectors, and Alim Bashier Manalao representing the religious sector. ###