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Bangsamoro youth leaders commit to peacebuilding

COTABATO CITY, September 21, 2018 – “We want to contribute in the Bangsamoro once it is established so that the legislators can see that the youth have a place in all this.”

This was the sentiment of 22-year-old Bryan Gonzales at the close of the three-day “MasterPEACE: Bangsamoro Youth Model Parliament” held in this city.

Gonzales, a member of the National Society of Parliamentarians (NPS), joined around 80 other Bangsamoro youth leaders in manifesting their commitment to building a culture of peace in the Bangsamoro region during the summit, which concluded today.

“Ang maganda dito (summit), sa kabubuuan ng Bangsamoro region, represented ang lahat ng kabataan at naririnig ang kanilang boses,” he said.

(The good thing about  this summit is that the youth sector of the entire Bangsamoro region is well-represented and their voices are heard.)

The summit included a simulation program in which the participants acted as district representatives, party representatives, and sectoral representatives under the prospective Bangsamoro Parliament.

The Bangsamoro youth discussed critical issues in peacebuilding as they crafted and deliberated on proposed bills at the committee level and plenary sessions.

‘Yong setup ng Bangsamoro Parliament is hard to facilitate because it is very different from Congress,” Gonzales said. “At least dito nakikita namin kung ano ‘yong mga pagkukulang, mga procedural issues na p’wede ma-resolve, and mag-introduce ng reforms.”

(The setup of the Bangsamoro Parliament is hard to facilitate because it is very different from Congress. At least in this simulation program, we can see which areas need improvement, what procedural issues need to be resolved, and what reforms we can introduce.)

One of the proposals made during the plenary session was the integration of conflict transformation and peacebuilding awareness through peace education in the Bangsamoro.

The proposed bills were turned over to the Regional Legislative Assembly through Assemblywoman Irene P. Tillah.

During her remarks, Youth Peace Ambassador Farrah Ghodsinia encouraged her fellow youth leaders to be proactive in promulgating peace in their respective regions.

“They have to hear our voice and we have to make our voice known because this future community that we have, this future region, it is we who are going to live in it. That is why we need to be active in achieving what we want to see,” she said.The “MasterPEACE: Bangsamoro Youth Model Parliament” is the third installment of the MasterPEACE series and is in line with the celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month every September.

It was spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, co-organized by the Democratic Leadership and Active Civil Society Empowerment (DELACSE) Bangsamoro, a European Union-funded project implemented by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines, and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance. It was done in partnership with the NSP. ###


By | September 22nd, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peace Month|0 Comments

Dureza stresses importance of inclusivity in peace, dev’t projects

PASIG CITY, September 19, 2018 – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza today emphasized the need for peace and development programs to benefit not just a few people but the entire community.

“It is very important that while implementing these projects, there is transparency and inclusivity, meaning we should not only touch those who know us personally, or those who support us politically,” he said.

Dureza made the statement at the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and selected Local Government Units (LGU) to formally launch the Community Peace Dividends Fund (CPDF) Program in this city.

The CPDF is a peace and development program of OPAPP that aims to develop, monitor, and implement conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting livelihood projects.

It is supported by the Spanish Government through the Agencia Española Cooperación Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID).

Dureza signed the MOU on behalf of OPAPP, with Tadian, Mountain Province Mayor Anthony Wooden, Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte Mayor Hermogenes Cordova, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon Mayor Reynante Inocando, and Esperanza, Agusan del Sur Sangguniang Bayan Member Nathaniel Cabactulan.

H.E. Amaya Fuentes-Milani, Chargé d’Affaires, Ad interim and Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Spain to the Philippines, and AECID Coordinator General Juan Pita witnessed the signing of the MOU.

“Spain and AECID’s support to this initiative of the Government to implement livelihood projects that are conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting in fragile communities that have gone through conflict, or still suffering from issues of unpeace, is greatly appreciated” Secretary Dureza said.

“Hopefully, this (program) will provide a template, a model we can apply to other areas,” he added.

The program follows the following three contexts: (a) areas under peace agreement implementation or post-conflict situation where the whole bureaucracy of government is addressing the peace and development concerns in these areas; (b) conflict-affected areas where parallel development can be initiated while the peace negotiations are ongoing; and (c) in areas where indigenous peoples are predominant.

The selected areas are identified based on a set of criteria approved by the Project Steering Committee and validated by the Conflict and Vulnerability Index formulated by OPAPP.

The provincial government officials, the security sector, and civil society organizations chose the final municipalities and barangays during the provincial orientation and consultations conducted by the agency.

Fuentes-Milani expressed her optimism that the program “will benefit the communities and will bring together women and men, indigenous groups, elders and youth, to discuss about their priorities and facilitate the path towards a peaceful coexistence.“

“The Government of Spain values the partnership with OPAPP and will remain committed to supporting peace and development in the Philippines as our key priorities,” she said. ###


By | September 19th, 2018|CBA-CPLA, CPP-NPA-NDF, Indigenous Peoples, MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

OPAPP lauds exchange programs’ role in peacebuilding

DAVAO CITY, September 17, 2018 — The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said international exchange programs have been instrumental not just in sustaining diplomatic ties between the Philippine and other countries but, more importantly, in helping the country in its quest for just and lasting peace.

In a keynote address delivered for him by OPAPP Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso yesterday at the Alumni Reconnects-Eastern Mindanao held at the Marco Polo Hotel in this city, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said exchange programs such as the United States government’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) have strengthened the long-standing relationship between the US and the Philippines.

“The IVLP is just one of the the many programs brought by our partnerships with different countries. Our partners, like the United States of America, are very instrumental in our work for peace,” Dureza said.

“We have not forgotten the contributions of our partners in ensuring that peace is moving forward in the country. These people have been with us as we work peace by piece,” he added.

Dureza also highlighted the crucial role of the IVLP in reinforcing cultural and socio-economic ties between the two countries that have been allies for decades.

“The IVLP has not only allowed exchanges of ideas and the sharing of cultures between our country and America, it has also given us an opportunity to learn innovative practices to address the problems here in the Philippines,” he said.

“As we continue working — whether it be in the government, in the business sector, academe, or civil society organizations — it is important to share to others what we have learned,” he added.

Dureza likewise acknowledged the contribution of the international development community in the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

The BOL, signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27, 2018, is a landmark measure that is expected to bring lasting peace and sustainable development in Mindanao.

“Recently, after the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, many countries expressed their trust and confidence in our work. They said they will continue to support the new Bangsamoro government financially, technically, and in many other means,” Dureza said.

“This shows us that there is an overwhelming international recognition of our work. It is an affirmation of the effectiveness of President Rodrigo Duterte in leading our country towards just and sustainable peace,” he added.

Dureza called on the alumni of the various US exchange programs to continue supporting the peacebuilding efforts of the national government and become agents of peace and development.

“Help us, in small or big ways, in pushing the peace agenda of the administration. We need to help our President, the first Mindanaoan to hold the highest position in the land, in his goal of achieving just and lasting peace in the country,” he said. ###

By | September 17th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peace Month|0 Comments

Multicultural Peace Fair highlights gains of peace

DAVAO CITY, September 16, 2018 — “The dividends of peace should be shared by all.”

This was the message of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Commissioner Jose Lorena Jr. during the closing ceremony of the Multicultural Peace Fair Bazaar at the Abreeza Mall here in Davao City last September 13.

Lorena said the gains of peace should not just benefit a particular sector or group but everyone, regardless of ideology, tribe, or religion.

He said the Duterte Administration’s Peace and Development Roadmap is anchored on the principles of inclusivity and convergence.

“There should be inclusivity and convergence in all our initiatives. One sector cannot do it alone,” he said.

Lorena said it is President Duterte’s vision to see all Filipinos united and rallying behind the national government’s peace and development agenda.   

He said this is the reason the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is strengthening the “bigger peace table” or the general public.

“Let us all set aside our differences and work together. It is time for us to achieve the peace and development we have long been aspiring for,” he said.

The three-day peace fair, which kicked off on September 11, was organized by OPAPP, Mindanao Peace Council, and JCI Duwaling.

The event is in line with the celebration of this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month themed “Mithiing Kapayapaan, Sama-Samang Isakatuparan.” ###

By | September 16th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peoples' Peace Tables|0 Comments

Cordillera Autonomy Bill among government’s top priorities

PASAY CITY, September 15, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza on Thursday reiterated the Duterte administration’s commitment to pursuing autonomy for the Cordillera Region.

“I think the next priority for this government is to install the Autonomous Region for the Cordillera,” Dureza said in his message at the celebration of the 32nd anniversary of “Sipat” or the Mount Data Peace Accord.

The Mount Data Peace Accord was the first culture-based peace agreement made in the history of the peace process in the Philippines. It was done on September 13, 1986 between the Philippine government under President Corazon Aquino and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) led by Fr. Conrado Balweg.

Last Thursday’s celebration, dubbed “Am-Among Di Cordillera: A Convergence for Cordillera Autonomy,” was a collaboration among the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR), and Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) in observation of 2018 National Peace Consciousness Month. It featured a theatrical performance portraying the milestones achieved throughout the Cordillera peace process.

Dureza commended the local leaders of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) for working as one to attain autonomy.

“Iyong mga biyak-biyak dati, nagkaisa na lahat. And I saw convergence of your political leaders. We should not squander this opportunity,” he said.

(Those who were fragmented before are now united. And I saw convergence of your political leaders. We should not squander this opportunity).

“Hindi lang Bangsamoro ang dapat magkaroon ng autonomous region. The Constitution provides both for the Bangsamoro and the Cordillera,” he added.

(It’s not just the Bangsamoro that should have an autonomous region. The Constitution provides both for the Bangsamoro and the Cordillera).

For his part, PLLO Secretary Adelino Sitoy guaranteed his office’s support for the bills filed in Congress that seek to establish the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera (ARC).

“The PLLO will pledge to exert all efforts in lobbying for the inclusion of Cordillera Autonomy Bill in the President’s legislative agenda and common legislative agenda,” Sitoy said.

Four identical versions of the proposed measure are now pending before the Senate and the House of Representatives.

House Bill 5343, which was authored by Cordilleran legislators, is now set to undergo deliberations in the House Committee on Local Government.

Serving as the counterpart of the House legislation, three Senate Bills — tagged as SB 1678, SB 1923, and SB 1930 — were filed by Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, JV Ejercito, and Bam Aquino, respectively.

For his part, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, chair of the RDC-CAR, urged his constituents as well as other key stakeholders to rally for the passage of these proposed bills.

“Our fight for autonomy will surely enhance our Cordilleran identity, self-governance, and self-determination. This is the future of the Cordillera and our children’s children,” he said.

In his message of support, former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was present in the 1986 signing of the Mount Data Peace Accord, urged everyone to help the present administration to attain peace and justice, relating it to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

“Let us help him (President Rodrigo Duterte) finish the transformation of the Philippines,” Ramos said.

The gathering was attended by Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Undersecretary Nabil Tan and other officials from OPAPP as well as representatives from PCOO, PLLO, RDC, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-CAR), Philippine Information Agency (PIA-CAR), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Also present during the activity were provincial governors, vice governors and local chief executive of CAR, Fr. Conrado Balweg’s children, authors and contributors of NEDA-CAR’s book titled “A Victory Postponed,” surviving witnesses of the 1986 Mt. Data Peace Accord, and those present during the signing of Executive Order 220 which paved way for the creation of CAR. ###

By | September 14th, 2018|CBA-CPLA, News|0 Comments

OPAPP gears for youth participation in peacebuilding

PASAY CITY, September 13, 2018 – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) today presented the roadmap for the crafting of the National Action Plan for Youth, Peace, and Security (NAPYPS) during the first day of the National Youth Peace Table Summit being held in this city.

In  his message, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza expressed pride in the peace initiatives of the 80 young participants, saying these will be integrated in the promotion and institutionalization of peace.

“We are hoping that this group of yours will become a nucleus of what could be a very capacitated group that could eventually already establish your own peace tables in your communities. Your work now is just really to share the skills, the capacity, and invite the support that you need,” Dureza said.

“That is the reason we provide whatever support that is needed in your big work ahead,” he added.

The upcoming NAPYPS is in response to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 which recognizes the youth’s efforts in peacebuilding and provides a set of guidelines upon which policies and programs will be developed by member states, the UN, and civil society.

The NAPYPS will be based on the OPAPP Youth Peace Table’s (YPT) series of nationwide consultations with different youth organizations. It will support the Filipino youth’s positive contribution to the peace process and conflict-resolution initiatives.

Since 2017, OPAPP has been partnering with young leaders from various regions involved in peacebuilding to gather their recommendations and insights in the drafting of the youth peace agenda.

The partnership is also aimed at deepening the youth leaders’ appreciation of peace education and sowing the seeds for a new roster of peace leaders.

The three-day National Youth Peace Table Summit runs from September 13 to 15 and is anchored on the 2018 National Peace Consciousness Month’s theme “Mithing Kapayapaan, Sama-samang Isakatuparan – Peace Na Tayo!”

OPAPP Conflict Prevention and Management Director Ferdinand Jovita said the event is “not just a commemoration” but a challenge to the youth on how they will apply the youth programs in their lives.

“A document is just a manifestation of what we have, but the real thing is how these formulated pillars will be lived by the youth of the Philippines,” he said.

OPAPP’s YPT is a partnership with the United Nations Development Program, together with the National Youth Commission, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TBPBM), Miriam College’s Center for Peace Education, Generation Peace, and Peace Tech.


By | September 13th, 2018|News, Peace Month, Peoples' Peace Tables|0 Comments

House adopts transitional justice bill

QUEZON CITY, September 13, 2018 — The House of Representatives highlighted the importance of social healing in conflict-affected and conflict-vulnerable areas during a committee meeting conducted in this city on Wednesday.

This as the Special Committee on Peace, Unity, and Reconciliation adopted House Bill No. 5669 which seeks to establish a transitional justice and reconciliation program for the Bangsamoro.

During the committee meeting, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza extended his gratitude to the legislators for initiating the effort.

“We would like to thank the committee for pioneering this effort. With this proposal of yours, you will be putting in place an institution that seeks for our people’s social healing,” he said.

Dureza further stressed the importance of the bill not only to the Bangsamoro but to all peace tables involved.

“Social healing should not be limited to the Bangsamoro. If at some point we succeed in the negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), as we have with the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA), and the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletariat Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-P/RPA/ABB), this national institution will be very crucial in their social healing,” he added.

Also present during the hearing were representatives from various civil society organizations and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), who expressed their strong support to the proposed legislation.

“We are happy that the creation of the Transitional Justice Commission is on track. We believe that national healing is very important, and transitional justice can bring about this enabling environment on judicial and non-judicial processes to achieve a culture of peace,” said BTC Commissioner Maisara Dandamun-Latiph.

Karen Tanada, Head Secretariat of Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE ACT 1325), commended how the bill recognized women’s role in the creation of the transitional justice program.

“We are very happy that the proposed bill has considered the role of women. If we may suggest, we can also include gender mainstreaming as well,” she said.

The bill seeks the creation of a National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) which will supervise the implementation of the program.

Authored by Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, the bill seeks to promote the concept of transitional justice in Philippine society.

The aim is to address the biases and prejudices against the minority sectors and develop mutual understanding amongst Filipinos. ###

By | September 13th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Dureza: Door to talks with Reds still ‘wide open’

QUEZON CITY, September 12, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza today assured the members of the House of Representatives that the government will remain open to the resumption of talks with the communists.

During a meeting with the House Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation, Dureza said that the government peace panel “will continue to pursue the effort in the resumption of peace negotiation.”

“At this point, we still adhere to the statement that the door is still wide open and we will be considering moving towards that,” he said.

The peace adviser reiterated President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s wishes before talks can resume, namely: 1) there should be no coalition government; 2) there should be no collection of revolutionary tax; 3) the venue of the talks should local; and 4) there should be a ceasefire during which members of the New People’s Army would encamp in designated areas.

Dureza said while the government’s current approach is pursuing localized peace talks, he also recognized that negotiations are vital in addressing the root causes of armed struggle.

“We know very well that we cannot finish the insurgency problem by military or police action at all. We have to address the social issues and it can be done if we engage the other side,” he said.

For his part, Government Peace Panel Chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III downplayed the exchange of words between Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and President Duterte, saying these would not hinder the resumption of talks.

“The exchange of words is actually an exchange of words between good friends,” he said.

The House Committee tackled House Resolution 1803 urging President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace negotiations with the communists and House Bill 5669 which seeks to establish a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program for the Bangsamoro.

The committee adopted both the resolution and the bill. ###


By | September 12th, 2018|CPP-NPA-NDF, News|0 Comments

Improvement of governance seen in new Bangsamoro region

Mandaluyong City, September 11, 2018 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza today said the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will usher in better governance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In an interview with journalist Roby Alampay in One News Channel’s Agenda, Dureza cited capacity-building and transparency as key improvements brought by the passage of BOL.

“We learned from the lessons of the past, (that) we need capacitation, we need more transparency,” he said.

Dureza said the law has allowed civil society groups to be more active in equipping the people in governing the region, especially in the transition period until 2022.

He also said many countries have expressed willingness to help in the capacity-building aspect.

“Many countries now are coming around, who have been with us in the negotiation. Sabi nila tutulong kami on the capacitation part,” he added.

(Many countries now are coming around, who have been with us in the negotiation, they said they will help on the capacitation part).

Dureza said the parliamentary system of government of the Bangsamoro will further safeguard the region from corruption.

“In the parliament, if the members feel that they don’t enjoy your trust because you violate certain things, they can remove you anytime, and install a new one anytime,” he said.

In a phone patch interview during the television program, Bangsamoro Transition Commission Chair Ghazali Jaafar said the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other groups will campaign for the ratification of the BOL in the upcoming plebiscite on January 21, 2019.

“The leadership of the MILF, Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and Bangsamoro Justice Party will go around the provinces where the Bangsamoro Regional Government will be implemented and BOL will be approved by the people,” he said.

Jaafar said he is already optimistic of the outcome. “The support of the people for BOL is overwhelming. I don’t think it can be stopped,” he said. ###


By | September 11th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Academe urged to create more spaces for peace conversations

ILIGAN CITY, September 9, 2018 — A member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) — the body that drafted the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) — encouraged the academe to create more spaces to advance the conversations of peace in Mindanao.

“When you look at the communities in Mindanao, we see that we have a thriving ummah (community) of Muslims, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), and Christians that look to us, the academe, for safe spaces for dialogue,” BTC commissioner Mussolini Lidasan said in a forum held at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology on Saturday.

The forum was organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and its partners to educate the public on the salient points of the BOL.

“We learned that this space provides understanding and learning from one another. And I witness and experience this when I was a student of this University,” he said.

Lidasan said this is the vision of the BOL. “In a larger scale, this is what we hope to achieve, on much larger spaces, with the implementation of the BOL,” he said.

Lidasan, who is a professor at the Ateneo de Davao University, said the Bangsamoro struggle in the past symbolized “a sword or a rifle.”

The academe, he added, “symbolizes the pen.”

Lidasan called on the academe to sustain its proactive efforts to address misconceptions about the Bangsamoro peace process.

“The role of the academe is not to sit idly by while those in the grassroots do the dirty work. It is not to sit in air-conditioned offices while those who are poor and destitute can do nothing about their situation. We in the academe are there not to highlight problems but to find solutions and to create structures where every Bangsamoro can feel safe,” he said.

Zeroing in on the gist of the law, Lidasan said the BOL has five pillars the academe should promote.

“The five pillars of our BOL – political and fiscal autonomy, IP rights, environmental protection, and a system of government – are an expression of the ideals we have fought so long for,” he said.

“This is what we mean by the right to self-determination. It is only by pushing our pen towards peace that we can have an active, participatory form of government,” he added.

“I am sure most of you are asking, what good does the BOL bring to you, your family, communities, and in the entire LDN? Peace and development. As what Secretary Jess Dureza of OPAPP always says, if there is peace, there is development,” Lidasan said.

He also urged the academe to help get the BOL ratified in the plebiscite scheduled on January 21, 2019.

“Let’s give the BOL a chance help rebuild our Bangsamoro homeland… We still have the plebiscite to hurdle,” he said.

“And after that, we have the unenviable task of transitioning from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro as it is. There is a long journey ahead, but our team and our communities are very eager, and willing, to push our pen even more than we have before,” he added.

For his part, Marjanie Mimbantas, a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel, said the MILF promotes a peaceful political exercise through the democratic process.

“From bullets to ballots,” he said, noting the MILF has already come up with a political party in preparation for the future Bangsamoro government “to address the Bangsamoro struggle through a democratic process.”

“It is now in the hands of the Bangsamoro people to ratify the law,” he said.

Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, another commissioner of the BTC, called on the youth, which composes the bulk of the voting population, to exercise their political rights by participating in the plebiscite.

“As they say, the youth is hope of the nation,” she said. ###

By | September 9th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peace Month|0 Comments