About Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process or OPAPP is the office mandated to oversee, coordinate, and integrate the implementation of the comprehensive peace process. The agency was created through executive order no. 125, s. 1993 which was later amended in 2001 with the signing of executive order no. 3, s. 2001 as a reaffirmation of the government’s commitment to achieving just and lasting peace through a comprehensive peace process.

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. ###

Locals execs express gratitude for PAMANA projects

DIPOLOG CITY, July 04 2018 – Local government units of Zamboanga del Norte thanked the national government for implementing projects in their communities that are focused on livelihood and poverty alleviation.
Sibuco Mayor Norbideiri Edding affirmed this during the Midterm Assessment of PAMANA (PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn) projects conducted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) with its stakeholders in the province of Zamboanga del Norte last July 3, 2018.
Malaking bagay talaga ang naitutulong nito [PAMANA] sa communities — sa’min sa grassroots level – kasi more on poverty alleviation programs and livelihood siya (PAMANA has a huge impact on our communities – on us who are at the grassroots level – because its projects are more on poverty alleviation and livelihood),” Edding said.
Nagpapasalamat kami sa (We thank) OPAPP that we were included because we need all the help we can get as far as developing our communities is concerned,” he added.
Edding also thanked the government’s initiative to include all stakeholders in the assessment because it gave them the opportunity to discuss their issues regarding the project implementation.
“Our objective is to provide alleviating programs para sa mga conflict-affected na constituents natin (Our objective is to provide alleviating programs for our conflict-affected constituents),” he said.
“So these programs are really helping our communities. And ‘yong mga insurgents natin na nando’n sa kabilang side, they were given the chance to change and be reintegrated with the communities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Gamar Janihim from the municipality of Sirawai cited an example of how the PAMANA projects had positive impacts in his communities.
Ipalagay mo na lang ‘yong communal irrigation, imbis na ‘yong ani ng mga farmers ay isa sa isang taon, dahil sa irrigation magiging apat na sa isang taon. So malaki talaga ang nadudulot ng PAMANA projects sa community (Let’s cite communal irrigation as an example: our farmers can harvest four times in one year instead of their usual one harvest per year. That’s why PAMANA projects really bring big changes in our community),” he said.
Janihim also conveyed his gratitude both on the projects implemented in his municipality and the assessment conducted in the city.
Masaya ako na naimbitahan dito para malahad ko rin ‘yong problema sa community. Ang kagandahan nito kasi makikita natin kung papaano ‘yong implementations, kailan, kung nade-delay ba ang proyekto, at naa-update ba kami (I am happy to be invited here in the midterm assessment because I can share our problems in the community. Another good thing from this assessment is that we can know the process of implementation, its timeline, status, and regular updates to us),” he said.
During his closing remarks, OPAPP Director Sherwin Vizconde thanked the province’s LGUs for taking the time to discuss their respective projects to them.
“We in OPAPP are very hopeful that the much coveted just and lasting peace will become a reality. Kung hindi man sa ating lifetime, then to the next generation. We are here to plant the seeds of hope, of peace,” he said.
The Zamboanga del Norte forum was the second to the last of assessments conducted by OPAPP aimed to determine the status of PAMANA projects’ physical and financial progress as well as the ways to move forward in order to enhance the project’s implementation. ###

Australia shares PH desire to end conflict, push development

MAKATI CITY, 03 May 2018 – The Australian government today affirmed its commitment to assisting the Philippines in its peace and development initiatives, saying it shares the Filipinos’ desire to end conflict and achieve just and lasting peace.

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Senator for New South Wales and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, gave the statement during a breakfast forum spearheaded by the Australian Embassy and the Albert Del Rosario Research Institute earlier today in this city.

Noting Australia’s more than 20 years of partnership with the Philippines in peacebuilding and development, Fierravanti-Wells said her country is “committed to support peace and development in Mindanao.”

“We recognize the ongoing challenges in the peace process, and we share with the Filipinos your basic desire to end this conflict and have just and lasting peace,” she said.

Fierravanti-Wells highlighted the importance of the participation of women in the peace process and their role in curbing the rise of violent extremism. She also recognized the role of youth, indigenous peoples, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the peace process.

In his remarks, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza expressed the Philippines’ gratitude to Australia in supporting the country in development and peacebuilding.

“We have seen your work not only in trying to address the present challenges in the peace process, but I also think that your assistance in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao through capacity building, is just as important,” Dureza said.

He said the peace process must go hand-in-hand with development in order to improve the lives of the Filipinos.

Australia currently supports multilateral and bilateral programs in Mindanao such as the Mindanao Trust Fund, PRIME Bangsamoro, and the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities.

Barangay leaders key to BBL passage — Roque

PASAY CITY, April 24, 2018 — Kayong mga barangay leaders – nasa inyong mga kamay ang pagpapanalo ng BBL.”(Barangay leaders, the passage of BBL is all in your hands.)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. made this pitch in his keynote message at the forum for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with the Liga ng mga Barangay – Mindanao Chapter held yesterday at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

Malinaw po na kaya tayo nandito ay para masigurado na pagdating ng plebisito, overwhelming na ‘oo’ ang iboboto ng ating mga kababayan (It is clear that the reason we are here is we want to make sure that during the plebiscite, there would be an overwhelming ‘yes’ from our countrymen),” he said.

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has given full support to the law, believing that it will solve the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao. He also said the Senate and the House of Representatives have already promised to pass the BBL.

Tingin ko naman ang ating mga botante ay maniniwala na kapag sinabi ng Presidente na ang solusyon sa problema ng labanan sa Mindanao ay BBL, lahat po sila [voters] ay boboto ng oo sa plebisito (I think the voters will believe that when the President says the BBL is the solution to the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao, all of them will vote yes in the plebiscite),” Roque said.

The forum with barangay leaders aimed to provide a brief background of the historical injustices committed against the Moro people. It also gave an overview of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the salient points of the BBL.

Lawmakers have committed to pass the BBL by the end of May this year. ###

 

BBL gets backing of Mindanao barangay leaders

PASAY CITY, 23 April 2018 — More than 300 barangay leaders from Mindanao expressed their strong support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a forum held today at the SMX Convention Center.

Liga ng mga Barangay ng Mindanao Vice President Gerard M. Ramiro, in his opening remarks, said the group “fully trusts the wisdom behind the BBL and the development of the Muslim Mindanao being led by the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

Ramiro thanked the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for involving the barangay leaders in the country’s peace work.

“Awareness and knowledge of history are the bedrock of commitment and common understanding to resolve the long conflict and aim for freedom in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

“Through this, we now have a better grasp of the significance of the BBL in the development of Mindanao and the rest of the country,” he added.

To formalize the local leaders’ commitment, the league released a resolution declaring full support for the BBL.

The resolution states that the BBL is “the only option left to end the bloodshed between peoples in Mindanao, the land of promise.”

 

Understanding the past

In his presentation titled “Understanding the Moro Struggle in the Philippines,” Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal narrated the history of the Moro struggle, citing historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro that include loss of sovereignty, land dispossession, and massacres.

Kailangan natin maintindihan ang nakaraan, upang maintindihan natin ang kasalukuyan (We need to understand the past in order to understand the present),” Iqbal said.

 

Frontliners for peace

In a video message, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza emphasized the importance of dialogue in the work for peace.

Mahalaga na mayroon tayong pagpupulong tungkol sa trabaho natin at sa kapayapaan ng ating bansa (It’s important that we have discussions about our work and for peace in the country),” he said.

For his part, OPAPP Undersecretary Ronald I. Flores recognized the unwavering support of barangay officials in promoting peace in their respective communities.

Alam naming hindi lubos na mapagtatagumpayan ang hangarin natin para sa kapayapaan kung hindi namin kayo kasama

(We know that we cannot fully achieve peace if you do not join us),” he said.

In his message, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil A. Tan underscored the local leaders’ role as front liners in the peace process in the communities, calling them “very important partners.”

He also said they are the “greatest beneficiaries for peace.”

The Forum on the BBL was organized by Liga ng mga Barangay ng Mindanao and OPAPP. Also present in the event were the commissioners of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) who provided information on the BBL.

The forum aimed to impart the salient points of the BBL to the members of the barangay association.

It also sought to deepen their understanding of the historical context of the Moro struggle and discuss the roles of the local government units in the future Bangsamoro.

Dureza: Peacebuilding should be done ‘peace by piece’

DAVAO CITY, April 16, 2018 “We must work peace by piece.”

This was how Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza described government’s peacebuilding strategy, which has been the key in effectively dealing with the various rebel groups across the country.

“We can’t do this overnight. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past. We must learn to do things better,” Dureza said in his message during the Annual Plenary Session of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines held here on Monday.

He said inclusivity has been the guiding principle of the Duterte administration as it seeks to find a long-lasting solution to the armed conflict that has plagued the nation for decades.

Dureza said this has also been the mindset that has enabled the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to move forward in Congress.

“It is President Duterte’s commitment to pass the BBL,” the government’s top peace negotiator said, explaining that in order to make this promise a reality, President Rodrigo Duterte knew that the voices of other stakeholders had to be heard.

This inclusivity led to the expansion of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) original membership from 15 to 21, three of them members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Dureza said although the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will have a “first stake” in the establishment of the proposed Bangsamoro state and government, the MNLF will also be an integral part of “the bigger leadership.”

Meanwhile, Dureza said the Duterte administration has adopted a more realistic approach in dealing with the communist rebels.

He admitted that there is a “wide gap” that must be bridged between the two parties, with the government working “within the parameters of the Constitution.”

He said this is why there must be a “convergence point” in which both groups “can meet halfway.”

Dureza had announced on April 4 that the President had directed him and the government panel to work on the resumption of peace talks with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), with specific instructions to forge a ceasefire agreement

Dureza stressed that proposals for capitulation or surrender should not be brought up during the negotiations, saying there are more “creative” ways of negotiating with the rebel organization.

“The key is to find an ‘alternative route,’” he said. “You can’t kill an idea. You have to address the root cause why they are rebelling,” he added.

Dureza cited the example of the GPH-MILF peace process in which the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) was established even while the peace negotiations between the government and the rebel group was ongoing.

“You have to make them feel that they are already benefitting,” he said. “There is also a need to take care of the bigger public who also feel they are being deprived,” he added.

Dureza also emphasized that the Duterte administration wants to carry out the negotiations at a “faster pace.”

“As President Duterte has said, this is already our last chance (to forge a peace agreement),” he said. ###

Dureza: Duterte determined to bring peace to the country

MANILA, April 12, 2018 —  President Rodrigo Duterte’s determination to end the decades-old insurgency in the country is the key factor in opening up the talks with the Reds, the presidential adviser on the peace process said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines this morning, Office the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said the resumption of talks is in line with the President’s “personal advocacy (and) ambition” as well as his “mission and vision.”

“He (President Duterte) would like to bring sustainable and just peace in the land,” Secretary Dureza said. “He understands very well coming from a place like Davao, where he dealt with them (New People’s Army) directly, and he would like to address the root cause of the problem.”

During the Cabinet meeting last April 4, President Duterte ordered Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who is the chief government negotiator with the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army–National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), to work on the resumption of talks with directives to forge a ceasefire agreement.

Dureza also pointed out that the President is taking into consideration the public’s desire to conclude the conflict.

“I’m sure it’s not only him (President Duterte) that is very anxious to have that conclusion, pati ang taong bayan nag-eexpect,” he said.

According to Dureza, the President has given a two-month timeline to reopen the talks, which stalled in November 2017 due to escalated violence on the ground.

“We’ll work on it definitely and the way you listen to the other side, (CPP Founder) Joma Sison says he welcome all this. I think they will be with us to start it early,” he said. ###

Dureza: Approach peace process with optimism

DAVAO CITY, April 10, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza yesterday underscored the importance of optimism in working on the peace process after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the resumption of talks with the communist rebels.

“I have always been optimistic; you have no other recourse but be optimistic if you’re working for peace,” the Secretary said in an interview aired by ANC on Monday night.

The talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) broke down in 2017 after four rounds of successful negotiations.

On April 4, Dureza announced that the President had directed him and the government panel to “work on the resumption of peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF” with instructions to forge a ceasefire agreement.

Dureza attributed this to Duterte’s desire to bring about peace in the country as well as to the positive statements from top Communist leaders expressing willingness to continue negotiations.

“If somebody offers the hand of peace, of course, every right thinking Filipino will also accept it,” he said.

Dureza also explained his “peace by piece” approach in the peace process. “It is a brick-by-brick laying of the foundation for peace,” he said.

“Our work is to find a way to go around these roadblocks, look for alternative ways. Because eventually, we cannot do without having sustainable peace,” Dureza said. ###

Dureza promotes unity amidst Filipinos’ diversity

GUIMBAL, ILOILO, 06 April 2018 — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza yesterday encouraged Guimbalanons to embrace the varying historical roots and cultures of the Filipinos as he gave the keynote message in this town’s annual Bantayan Festival.

“The Philippines is a diverse country. We have different beliefs from different sectors, but we must unite as one nation. Let us stop judging the other person based on our own standards,” he said.

One of the festival’s highlights, a reenactment of the Moro raids in the area during the Spanish colonial period, showed how the natives used the gimba — a hollowed trunk from a palm tree — as an instrument to warn the settlers of incoming Moro pirates.

“The Moros today are different from the Moros that we know of before. Instead of the fighting, the locals should also represent (in the performance) how we embrace the Moros as they are now,” Dureza said.

He also noted the shift in the relationship with the Moro people over the years. He cited how the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) greatly helped the government during the Marawi siege last year through the establishment of the Peace Corridor, which was instrumental in the rescue of 255 civilians.

The Peace Corridor was a safe and secure route jointly established by the government and the MILF for civilians who were fleeing the crisis. Two Peace Corridors were created: one in Marawi used for the retrieval of trapped locals, and one in Malabang used for the safe passage of humanitarian assistance.

“Let us forget the past, embrace our Moro brothers and sisters, and move forward for peace. We have to celebrate all Filipinos — Moros man sila, Christians, or IPs (indigenous peoples) alike,” Dureza said.

Dureza optimistic Reds will reciprocate offer of peace talks

ILOILO CITY, APRIL 5, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza today expressed confidence that communist rebels will agree to the resumption of peace talks after President Rodrigo Duterte offered “another last chance” to forge a peace settlement.

In an interview on Super Radyo DZBB, Dureza said he believes both the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) have learned from the previous rounds of talks, which broke down after the failure to maintain an enabling environment for negotiations.

“There is really an intention of both sides to put an end to this problem, this tragedy of Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos. I’m confident that both sides will grab the last chance to work toward a final settlement,” he said.

The peace adviser emphasized that peace negotiations are essential in ending the decades-old communist insurgency.

Hindi kasi natin pwedeng tapusin itong problema ng insurgency sa bakbakan lamang (We cannot end the problem of insurgency just by fighting). We need to address the root causes,” he said.

Dureza also reiterated the importance of a ceasefire agreement for talks to move forward.

Kailangan wala munang insidente ng pag-atake para nakikita ng taumbayan ang (There should be no more incidents of attacks so that the people can see the) sincerity on both sides,” he said.

During the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the President instructed Dureza to work on the resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army–National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), with the order to work out a ceasefire agreement.

The President is also “committed to provide support, if necessary, in replacement of the revolutionary tax that he asked to be stopped.”

The government and CPP-NPA-NDF have conducted four rounds of talks from 2016, resulting in the signing of several agreements.

These include the supplemental guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee for the observance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the reaffirmation of previously signed agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. ###