International donor community reaffirms support for GPH-MILF peace process

DAVAO CITY, October 12, 2018 — Representatives of the diplomatic corps and the international donor community converged yesterday in this city to declare their unwavering support for the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In his opening remarks during the “Conversation Between MILF Chair Murad Ebrahim and Development Partners” organized by the United Nations in the Philippines, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza underscored the invaluable role of foreign partners in pushing the GPH-MILF peace process forward.

Umbilical cord of peace process

“We appreciate that you are all here to lend your support. You are the umbilical cord that kept us from walking away,” Dureza said.

He noted how the country’s international partners had helped sustain the peace negotiations between the national government and the rebel group particularly during periods of uncertainty and armed conflict.

He said with the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), he is looking forward to seeing the continued assistance coming from foreign partners, especially the implementation of initiatives that would help create a groundswell of support for the landmark measure.

“Expectations from the people are very high. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Dureza said.

He also emphasized the need for a multi-stakeholder approach in addressing the many challenges confronting the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) once the BOL is ratified in a plebiscite scheduled on January 21, 2019.

According to the peace adviser, high poverty incidence, a dearth of job opportunities, and the lack of adequate infrastructure are among the major concerns confronting the region.

“We have to address these problems together,” he said, adding that finding solutions to these pressing issues “is only solving half of the problem.”

Dureza said in order to bring about sustainable development in communities, stakeholders should focus their efforts on improving the lives of people on the ground.

He said due to the much-improved peace and security conditions in the region, genuine economic growth can now take root wherein the Bangsamoro people can partake of its benefits.

Dureza stressed the need for everyone to “learn from the lessons of the past.”

“Let us not squander this golden opportunity,” her said,

From fighters to leaders

For his part, MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim said the MILF is fully aware of the many challenges confronting his organization, particularly the forthcoming shift from the ARMM to the BARMM.

Murad said the upcoming plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL is “a major hurdle” for the MILF, which is the main proponent of the law and is expected to assume top leadership positions once the BARMM is set up.

He said the establishment of the Bangsamoro region and government requires the enactment of the law, which, he pointed out, “is the product of more than 40 years of negotiations.“

Murad admitted that the MILF members’ transition from being combatants to leaders in the community will not be easy and will require a lot of effort on their part.

“We are revolutionaries who have been trained in warfare but nil in terms of experience in electoral processes,” he said.

Murad said there are two crucial transitions that must happen to ensure the MILF completes its transformation as an organization.

The first transition is the implementation of timely programs and projects for the 30,000 to 40,000 MILF fighters who will undergo the delicate process of decommissioning.

“These combatants need to be transformed into productive members of the population,” Murad said.

The second transition would be providing the MILF members with the necessary capacity-building interventions that will make them capable and effective leaders.

“We need to understand the intricacies of government. We are neophytes [in this field] and we need to learn,” Murad said.

Greater synergy among donors

At the same event, UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Ola Almgren lauded the MILF leadership for working hard to turn their vision into reality.

“Your (MILF) vision is very clear. You laid out a central pathway that would give us the ability to engage,” Almgren said.

He stressed the need for greater synergy among international donor agencies, particularly in the implementation of programs and projects in the region.

“There must be an alignment of our plans with those of the Bangsamoro,” Almgren said as he reaffirmed his agency’s commitment to undertake initiatives that would help bring long-lasting peace and genuine development in the region.

“We are happy to play that role. We stand ready to help you,” he said. ###

By | October 12th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Partners for Peace|0 Comments

UN Peacebuilding Fund: Sustaining the gains of peace and development

DAVAO CITY, October 6, 2018—The United Nations’ (UN) upcoming initiatives in Mindanao will focus on building the capacities of the youth and women and empowering them to become agents of peace and development.

This was among the highlights of the second Project Advisory Board Meeting of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UN PBF) attended by representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, UN Women, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) yesterday.

Youth as peacebuilders

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, who co-chairs the PBF Project Advisory Board with UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Ola Almgren, stressed the vital role of the youth in peacebuilding, particularly in the national government’s efforts to address the growing threat of violent extremism in the country.

“The youth is very critical in our work for peace,” Dureza said, pointing out that a large number of those recruited by terrorist groups during the Marawi siege were very young fighters.

He emphasized the need to provide young people, particularly those in conflict-affected areas, with the necessary skills that would enable them to make a living and consequently discourage them from joining extremist organizations.

“We need to give them (youth) the capacity to earn so they can avoid doing these foolish things,” Dureza said.

Sustaining the gains of peace

The PBF, dubbed “Enhancing Capacities for the Bangsamoro,” began its implementation in September 2017 through a partnership between the United Nations and OPAPP.

The fund’s main objectives are to create an enabling environment for the successful implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and develop the capacities of stakeholders to fight violent extremism and radicalization.

The PBF is designed to support government’s peacebuilding initiatives, which include the information and education campaign for the passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), strengthening the convergence between the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and assisting in the transition from the present ARMM government to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

Engaging the youth

During meeting, Andrew Morris, chief of UNICEF’s Mindanao office, said it is the overall strategy of his agency to actively engage the youth in peace-promoting activities.

“This is something we would continue in the coming years, to get them involved in peacebuilding,” Morris said.

He said based on a recent study conducted by UNICEF, there are currently around 400,000 out-of-school youth in the ARMM.

Morris said the situation is worrisome in light of the current peace and security conditions in the region which are being exploited by radical groups.

He added that among the major concerns confronting the region’s youth are health, education, and employment.

He said this is the reason the UNICEF’s programs and projects are focused on providing much-needed services for the youth.

“We need to work at a larger scale to make an impact,” he said.

Morris said through UNICEF’s various programs, the agency hopes to reach out to about half a million youth in the region.

Increased role of women in community safety

For her part, Maricel Aguilar of UN Women reported that her organization has already reached out to 500 “diaspora” communities.

She said this is in line with the agency’s efforts to support a CAB-compliant Bangsamoro Organic Law in particular and the Bangsamoro peace process in general.

Aguilar said many of the women they have talked to still do not have a clear understanding of the BOL, especially on how its implementation will impact their respective communities.

“A lot of them don’t know what will be the implications of the law,” she said. “We need to reach out to these communities and influence them.”

Aguilar said UN Women is now closely working with civil society organizations in the region in order to boost their information dissemination campaign on the BOL and strengthen the role of women in community safety and civilian protection.

To date, they have trained 33 women speakers who will lead in legislative lobbying and conversations in diaspora communities.

“We hope to scale up our interventions,” she said.

Greater synergy

Dureza underscored the need for greater synergy and integration among the various peace stakeholders.

“We need to have a coherent network,” he said, noting that a lot of organizations are now helping the national government in its work for peace.

Dureza also lauded the international development community, particularly the United Nations, for helping to push forward the Duterte Administration’s peace and development agenda.

“Thank you very much for your help,” he said. “But there is still a lot of work ahead of us.”

In response, Almgren, UN’s resident coordinator in the Philippines, thanked OPAPP for giving his organization the opportunity to carry out its work in the Philippines.

“We are privileged for the partnership that we have,” he said.  ###\

By | October 6th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Partners for Peace|0 Comments

Dureza: Bigger work lies ahead with BOL

Makati City, July 30, 2018 — “There is a bigger work to be done with the passage of the BOL.”

This was reiterated by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza on Monday, days after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) into law.

“Milestones have been reached, pero marami pa tayong gagawin (there is still much to do) in our work for peace,” Dureza said in his message at the first Stakeholders’ Conference of the United Nations Association of the Philippines on Monday at the University of Makati.

He said in spite of this, he remains optimistic the landmark measure will address the grievances of the Bangsamoro people.

“Hopefully, the Bangsamoro Organic Law will address the grievances of the Bangsamoro (people). Will everything be well and OK? No, sir. We may have reached a milestone but it still has to be worked out,” he said.

Dureza said he has confidence in the leadership of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim over the Bangsamoro people.

“I trust that this mechanism will bring a better Bangsamoro area. Dahil I know the leader of the MILF – and I trust that knowing him as a person – he will be up to the requirement of how we could move the Bangsamoro Law for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

Dureza also extended his gratitude to the United Nations (UN) and its agencies for being “one of the strong allies in the work for peace.”

“The UN agencies have been very helpful in our work to where we are today. May mga problema tayo during the course of negotiations, pero hindi sila natinag (There have been problems during the course of negotiations, but they did not falter.)  They continue to work for peace,” he said.

Dureza also urged the UN to stay the course in moving peace forward.

“We need your support, assistance, knowledge, and continuous faith that we can work together on this,” he said.

Joining Dureza in the conference were Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Higher Education Commissioner Ronald Aldamat, and United Nations (UN) Rapporteur Ambassador Rosario Manalo.

The activity was attended by more than 100 representatives from various sectors.

By | July 30th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Partners for Peace|0 Comments

Young peace builders engaged in celebration of International Youth Day

Around 800 students and representatives from various youth organizations had actively participated during the celebration of International Youth Day (IYD) held on 12 August 2017 at Ayala Malls South Park in Muntinlupa City.

With the theme “Youth Building Peace”, the celebration started off with pre-program performances highlighting young talents in singing, dancing and beat-boxing, followed by keynote messages from senior officials of the National Youth Commission (NYC), Philippine Information Agency, Dangerous Drugs Board and video messages from NYC Chairperson Aiza Seguerra and from the United Nations Youth Envoy.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Director Pamela Ann Padilla-Salvan, on her video message for the event, stated that the youth are not deemed powerless because of the advanced technology that they can use in their advocacy for peace.

“I believe the youth of today should play a more active role in peace building. You can act as ‘pebbles of peace’ by making an impact and creating your own ripples. It starts with you – from your homes, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces,” Director Padilla-Salvan encouraged.

High school students from public and private schools in Muntinlupa, youth organizations, and local government units from Cavite, Laguna and Batangas were among the participants who united on this annual celebration.

Natutuwa kami na this [IYD celebration] was well-represented – we have different schools, different LGUs and sectors na nag-participate ngayon. It’s our chance to promote kung ano talaga ang role ng kabataan sa peace building and how they can contribute sa security ng kani-kanilang communities,” said NYC Assistant Secretary Paul Anthony Pangilinan.

Acknowledging Asec. Pangilinan’s message, 18-year old Rheymel Matute of Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines noted, “Sabi nga ni Asec. Pangilinan kanina, kami ‘yong susunod na hahawak ng torch [for peace] so ibig sabihin, balang araw p’wedeng kami na ‘yong nasa unahan para mag-talk kaya habang nasa kabataan pa lang kami, nalalaman na namin kung ano ba talaga ‘yong tunay na relevance ng peace.”

This commemoration is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal #16 which aims to ‘’promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’’. Further, it is also in line with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 54/120 in 1999 endorsing the proposed declaration of 12 August as International Youth Day made by World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. ###

Moro youth pursues peace under federalism

MARAWI CITY — Since the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935 under the leadership of President Manuel L. Quezon, the country has adopted the unitary or presidential system of government. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s strong pronouncements on the nationwide shift towards federalism have mostly been met with thunderous applause, approval, and yearning for more comprehension on what federalism would entail. Thus, rather than take the public’s concurrence for granted, a group of young Moros took it upon themselves to jumpstart community-wide engagement and dialogue on the matter.

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German parliamentarians express strong support to Philippine peace process

PASIG CITY – Members of the Bundestag, Germany’s Lower House of Parliament, paid the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) a courtesy call expressing their strong support to the peace and development initiatives being undertaken by the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

“We wish you all the success, because it could be a very good time, not just for the Philippines, but for the reason to sit together; and this can be a positive sign that could help end conflict,” said German parliamentarian Dr. Thomas Gambke during the meeting, emphasizing their support for the Philippine government’s transparent and inclusive approach on the peace process.

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Message of MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal for the Peace Month

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel joins in the celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month 2016, and congratulates the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on its 23rd Anniversary.

This celebration is, indeed, close to our hearts as we continue our quest for just and lasting peace in Mindanao. Given how far we have come in the journey for peace through the GPH-MILF peace process, moving forward with activities that advocate for, encourage and promote the understanding of this whole exercise is always timely and fitting.

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Statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the signing of the indefinite ceasefire between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have noted with elation and optimism this breakthrough in the peace negotiations.

It is a laudable move on the part of the CPP-NPA-NDF to respond positively to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of re-imposition of the ceasefire ‘for as long as necessary’ to attain lasting peace in the land.

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Duterte peace roadmap gets strong support from international community

PASIG CITY—International peace and development partners expressed strong support and optimism on the peace and development roadmap of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, even applauding the remarkable performance of his administration to resolve peace and security issues during his first month in office.

“We are very impressed with the work that OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) has done in just a short time,” said World Bank Country Director Mara Warwick on behalf of the other international organizations and institutions present during OPAPP’s briefing on government’s peace agenda held Thursday, August 4, in Edsa Shangri-la Hotel.

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By | August 8th, 2016|News, Partners for Peace|0 Comments