QUEZON MEMORIAL CIRCLE, QUEZON CITY (September 3, 2019) – Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. lauded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for its resolve to push forward the Bangsamoro peace process in his State of the Peace process Report during the opening of National Peace Consciousness Month.

“Kagagaling ko lang po ng Cotabato para sa decommissioning. Mayroon po sa kanila (MILF), naka-wheelchair. Pero ‘yung nararamdaman po nila, masayang-masaya po sila. Sabi nila, ‘at least buhay kami na naabutan namin ang peaceful resolution ng Bangsamoro conflict” Galvez said.

He noted this milestone is the product of 22 years of peace negotiations between the national government and the MILF, which spanned decades and several administrations.

“These achievements signal the start of a new and exciting chapter in the Bangsamoro people’s history,” Galvez said. “Finally, our Moro brothers and sisters are taking the lead in charting their region’s economic and political future.”

Decommissioning process, a symbol of peace

Preparations are underway for the public launching of the decommissioning of MILF combatants and their weapons on September 7. Around 1,060 MILF combatants and 920 weapons will be decommissioned in ceremonies to be held in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao.

No less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and other high-ranking government officials are expected to witness the landmark event.

“Itong decommissioning ay napaka importante dahil ito ay sisimbolo ng katahimikan sa Mindanao. Ang MILF ang magiging ehemplo, na makikita natin na ang buong Mindanao ay magbebenepisyo,” Galvez said.

For his part, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles called on Filipinos to unite and work together for the nation to achieve enduring peace and sustainable development.

“As we commemorate National Peace Consciousness Month, it is imperative that we recognize that peace is a state desired by all, that its pursuit is contingent on the rejection of evil, and that our nation must collectively work for it if we want to realize our potential and lay the foundation for the kind of economic development required to lift our people out of poverty,” Nograles said.

“Tapang at malasakit po ang susi sa kapayapaan. With courage, with conviction, and with compassion, let us all work together to pursue peace, achieve progress, and secure prosperity in our time,” he added.

The theme of this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month is “Tapang at Malasakit para sa Kapayapaan,” with the hashtags #FilipinosforPeace and #PilipinoParasaKapayapaan.

Normalization on track

Nograles, who co-chairs the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) with Galvez, reported that the normalization program for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is proceeding as planned, as he emphasized the need to maintain its momentum.

The ICCMN was created in June of this year to consolidate and harmonize the efforts of national government agencies in line with the implementation of the Normalization Track.

“I would like to encourage the continued support of the concerned agencies to ensure coordination, so that we can mobilize swiftly towards the implementation of the normalization program and ensure support for the different modalities and mechanisms of normalization,” Nograles said.

According to Galvez, the successful decommissioning of MILF combatants will be the key in addressing situations of conflict in Mindanao, and convincing other armed groups to return to the folds of the law.

“When we talked to the MILF, ‘yung mga BIFF at saka mga Abu Sayyaf, pag nakita nila na maganda ang kinalabasan ng normalisasyon at decommissioning, ay talagang magbababa na rin sila ng mga baril,” he said.

In his remarks, Galvez cited other key milestones in the Bangsamoro peace process such as the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

He highlighted the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 which institutionalizes the “Whole-Of-Nation” Approach in addressing the communist insurgency, as well as the signing of the Clarificatory Implementing Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group.

Galvez also reported the national government’s continues to hold dialogues with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as part of its commitment to engage all Moro fronts.

For whom the bell tolls

Galvez, accompanied by Nograles, Abdulkarim Misuari, Hatimil Hassan from the MNLF and other peace partners, rang the World Peace Bell to signal the start of National Peace Consciousness Month.

The World Peace Bell was installed at the Quezon Memorial Circle in 1994 after it was donated by the World Peace Bell Association, a Japanese organization which promotes peace-building initiatives across the globe.

The Philippines is the first in Southeast Asia to receive a Bell from the organization.

Meanwhile, Nograles challenged the Filipino people to help in securing peace for the next generation.

“Our children and our children’s children are counting on us to address the conflicts of decades past, so that they can grow up secure in the knowledge that they can visit every corner of the country without fear, confident in the economic prospects of their country, and upbeat about their nation’s future,” he said.

The opening of National Peace Consciousness Month was also attended by Deputy Executive Secretary Alberto A. Bernardo, Office of the Executive Secretary; Abdulkarim Misuari; MP Hatimil Hassan, Deputy Speaker, BARMM; Police General Elmo San Diego (ret.), representative of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte; Undersecretary Vicente Agdamag, representative of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr; Lieutenant Colonel Ramiro A. Rey, Commanding Officer, Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command; Brigadier General Henry A. Robinson, Jr., Deputy Division Commander, 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army; Police Brigadier General Geraldo Rosales, Chief, PNP Peace Process and Development Office; Carmelo Victor Crisanto, Executive Director, Human RIghts Violation Victims’ Claims Board; Undersecretary Felicisimo Budiongan, Undersecretary for Disaster Response Management, Department of Social Welfare and Development;  Janice Tambo, representative, National Historical Commission of the Philippines; Myrna Lansangan, representative, Local Water Utilities Administration; Kristin Dadey, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration; Marco P. Gutang, President, Angel C. Palanca Peace Program Foundation, Inc.; Josephine Lasacano, Executive Director, BALAY Rehabilitation Center; Regina Lyn Sumatra, Executive Director, Sulong CAHRIHL; Veronica P. Tabara and Florentina Puentespina, KAPATIRAN; representatives of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC); Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process executives and employees, and; representatives from other national government line agencies.###