COTABATO CITY (8 December 2021) — The national government’s top peacemaker flew to this Central Mindanao city to meet with the region’s stakeholders and rally their continued support behind the Bangsamoro peace process and the observance of safe, orderly and peaceful elections next year.
For two days, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. held separate discussions with top ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), local government, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) officials.
“Major milestones have been achieved under the Bangsamoro peace process in recent years — the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the establishment of the BARMM and creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. There is a need for us to sustain these gains,” Galvez said.
“We are also enjoining all sectors in the Bangsamoro region – from the security, religious and academic sector, as well as civil society, LGUs and the BARMM government to ensure that the Filipino people’s inherent right to choose their leaders through a democratic process is preserved, observed, and respected,” he added.
In his presentation of the milestones of the Bangsamoro peace process during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People public address on December 6, Galvez informed the President of his scheduled meeting with Bangsamoro key officials to ensure safe and orderly elections in the BARMM.
AFP, PNP commit to securing elections
In his dialogue with PNP and AFP officials, Galvez emphasized the need to ensure peace and security in the region during next year’s national elections.
The meeting was attended by Lt. Gen Alfredo Rosario Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command; Maj. Gen Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Central and the 6ID; Police Brig. Gen. Eden Ugale, regional director of the Police Regional Office – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region; and Police Col. Jibin Bongcayao, provincial director of the Provincial Police Office – Maguindanao.
“The security sector’s mandate is crucial in making sure that safe, honest, and credible elections are held in the region. As we know, elections are the cornerstone of our democratic process,” Galvez said.
“And by ensuring the people’s safety during this political exercise, we are also building on the gains of the peace process and strengthening the foundations that underpin it, ” he added.
Galvez was joined by Police Maj. Gen. Nickson Muksan, chair of the GPH Ad Hoc Joint Action Group; Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, chair of the GPH Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH); Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano; Social Welfare and Development Usec. Danilo G. Pamonag; Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary David Diciano, chair of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) Peace Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF Peace Accord; OPAPP Executive Director Cesar De Mesa, co-chair of the Joint Task Forces on Camps Transformation; Col. Joel Mamon, head of Secretariat of the GPH CCCH; OPAPP Dir. Jana Jill Gallardo; and OPAPP Dir. Farrah Grace Naparan, member of the GPH PIP.
“As we witnessed the commitment to peace by our various stakeholders during the ratification of the BOL and continuing development of the Bangsamoro, we hope that our partners from the MILF, MNLF, LGUs and all residents in the BARMM display the same level of commitment to peace, and have clean and honest elections in 2022,” the peace adviser stressed.
Peace covenant among ‘opposing’ parties
According to Galvez, OPAPP is eyeing to convince members of opposing political parties in the region to sign peace covenants so that none of them will use force or violence in promoting their political agenda during the campaign and election period.
“We met with key local chief executives and BARMM officials as part of our agency’s efforts to convince them to forge a peace covenant. The region’s future is at stake during this election. We cannot afford to lose the momentum of the Bangsamoro peace process,” he said.
“And with the extension of the BTA’s transition period, the successful conduct of the next year’s elections will guarantee that the leaders under the next administration will continue supporting the BARMM government’s peace and development agenda,” Galvez said.
“We also enjoin the candidates to maintain their resolve and commitment in achieving the President’s directive of having an honest and peaceful election,” he added.
In his meeting with Bangsamoro government officials, the peace adviser assured them that signing a peace covenant will help to further strengthen democratic processes in the region and prevent the outbreak of violence or situations of conflict.
Meanwhile, in his dialogue with MILF and MNLF officials and base commanders, Galvez discussed ways on how the GPH and Bangsamoro security forces can work together to protect the integrity of the elections.
“We urged MILF and MNLF forces to remain non-partisan and join the national government in our call for all local candidates not to use armed violence to promote their political agendas,” he said.
Galvez likewise emphasized that having “orderly, credible, and secure elections will help preserve the gains of the peace process, which we have worked so hard to achieve.” ###