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: 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. ###

 

 

 

Qualified teachers to stay under BBL

Marawi City – Appointed officials and qualified teachers of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) “will continue to sit in their position and perform their duty” as the transition period takes place once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed and eventually ratified.

This was emphasized by Commisioner Jose Lorena of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) during the final leg of the Congressional hearing and public consultation on the BBL held in this city.

One of the concerns raised by the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division of Lanao del Sur during the consultation was the security of tenure of employees, especially the teachers.

Lorena assured the teachers that there is “no intention to remove them from their positions.”

“In fact you will be given more priority in the Bangsamoro because it will weed out the bureaucracy from those positions of personnel who are not qualified,” he said.

“Under the BBL, we would like to upgrade the quality of education in our region,” he added.

Meanwhile, those who will be separated from the service can avail themselves of separation packages as provided under the proposed measure drafted by the BTC.

“In compliance with the request of the ARMM employees association, we provided a provision that those who want to retire will be given the highest retirement package,” Lorena said.

Public consultations on the BBL were held to evaluate the pulse of the constituents, especially those who are included in the core area of the Bangsamoro.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are now eyeing to pass the proposed measure by the end of May 2018 upon the urging of President Rodrigo Duterte, a staunch supporter of the BBL. ###

Dureza pushes for resolution of IPs’ ancestral domain issues

BUTUAN CITY, March 26, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza today urged concerned government agencies to work closely together and address issues related to the approved Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) within the CARAGA Region.

The move was Dureza’s immediate response to a resolution submitted by delegates to the Indigenous People’s Summit held here today requesting the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to provide technical assistance to the six ethnolinguistic tribes in the area.

Dureza said that although these CADTs have already been approved by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), they have been held for some time pending registration by the Land Registration Administration (LRA).

CADTs are issued by the NCIP pursuant to the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) Law or RA 8371 which recognizes the native titles of indigenous peoples over their lands and domain.

During the summit, Dureza called on the representatives of the NCIP, LRA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department Agrarian Reform (DAR) to come forward and asked them to manifest their commitment to resolve all CADT-related concerns, utilizing the resources of their respective agencies for the purpose.

“There has to be a convergence of efforts. This has been the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte,” the peace adviser said as he addressed more than 400 Lumad delegates from across the region who attended the summit to discuss pressing concerns confronting them, particularly with their ancestral domain claims.

In the meantime, Dureza pointed out that the identity of the region’s IPs make them distinct as a people and therefore should be respected by all.

“It is wrong for us to say that we need to ‘convert’ the Lumads [to our ways]. We need to preserve their traditional way of doing things,” he said.

Dureza cited the traditional methods that Lumads have utilized over the years to effectively resolve situations of conflict in their communities.

The country’s top peace negotiator called on the region’s IPs to play a more active role in peace-building, asking them not to rely solely on the government or the military to address the peace and security situation in their area.

He said this mindset will be crucial as he revealed that almost 70 percent of the fighters that were recruited by rebel groups are Lumads.

“You have now awakened. You can do something for yourselves,” he said.

Dureza also emphasized the need for the region’s Lumads to “take ownership” of the peace and development projects being implemented in their communities.

“The proposals should come from the tribes. You (Lumads) should therefore find a way to develop and protect these projects,” he said.

In a separate interview with members of the media, Secretary Dureza underscored the importance of engaging IPs in the development process.

“It is very important to engage them (Lumads) so that we tell them what government plans and what it is doing. But more importantly, to listen what they have to say to government,” he said.

Dureza pointed out that the people and the local government officials “should not wait until someone like me from Manila will come in tell them [what to do].”

“There must be continuity to [enable] work on the ground,” he said.

Dureza stressed that Lumads need more understanding and more capacity-building.

“I call on the concerned agencies to continue what they’re doing and resonate all of these messages,” he said.

The two-day IP Summit was organized by the CARAGA Regional Peace and Order Council, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Provincial Government of CARAGA, and the City Government of Butuan.  ###

Reintegration of former combatants highlights Cordi groups’ assembly

BANGUED, Abra – From arms to amity. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) proposed the formation of the Peace and Development Forces (PDF) to former Cordilleran rebel groups as part of the peace agreement between the government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) on Wednesday morning.

During the “Galigad” or a ceremonial cessation of hostilities presented by the CBA-CPLA Balao-as faction, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza along with AFP-Peace Process Office Chief BGen. Raniel Ramiro suggested the process of decommissioning of firearms as an initial step to the eventual creation of the PDF towards the normalcy of former rebel groups in Cordillera.

Puwede yung mga baril ninyo hindi i-surrender at ipapa-inventory lang natin sa military kasi ang military ang custodian (ng firearms). Inventory muna, lista, and then i-deposito na muna. Pagkatapos, mag train kayo gaya ng mga army reservists. Pag tapos na kayong mag-training at qualified na kayo, puwede na kayong ipasok doon sa agency as reservists of the military,” Dureza suggested.

(Instead of surrendering your firearms, they should be part of the military’s inventory as they are the custodians for them. Inventory first, list them, then deposit them for the meantime. Afterwards, you may train like those enlisted as army reservists. Once you’ve completed it, you may join as reservists of the military)

The event, in partnership with the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic and Development Authority – Cordillera Administrative Region (NEDA-CAR), also featured the information and education campaign on Cordillera Autonomy.

Marissa Cabato of NEDA-CAR said the campaign is still open for changes and interested individuals may submit contents to be included in the IECs subject to the evaluation and approval of RDC and NEDA-CAR.

On January 17, Senator Miguel Zubiri fulfilled a recent promise to the Cordillerans by filing Senate Bill 1678 or an Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. Zubiri is among the senators supportive of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

According to Senate Bill 1678, the establishment of an Autonomous Region of Cordillera will give the Cordillerans “the opportunity to decide on what policies and programs will best fit the economic, social, and cultural development within the framework of the national sovereignty and in consonance with their local practices and cultural heritage and identity.”

The bill also aims to address underdevelopment and poverty in the Cordilleras more effectively through regional autonomy.

Last year, leaders and representatives of various Cordillera rebel factions and other groups, namely the CPLA and CPLA-CBA, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC), Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC), and North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG), jointly called on all Cordillerans to unite and rally behind efforts to establish the constitutionally mandated Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

Cordillera groups, together with the local chief executives and representatives of the six provinces of the Cordillera and the City of Baguio, have expressed support for the passage of House Bill 5343, “An act establishing the autonomous region of the Cordillera.” ###