Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Peace Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF

(22 November 2017)

We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them.

Recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels left the President with no other choice but to arrive at this decision. We take guidance from the President’s recent announcements and declarations.

This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them.

President Duterte has taken unprecedented steps and has walked the so-called extra mile to bring peace. However, the Communist Party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity.

There will be no peace negotiations anymore with the CPP/NPA/NDF until such time as the desired enabling environment conducive to a change in the government’s position becomes evident.

We will closely watch the developments.

We have expressed our deep gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government for its strong support as we also expressed to their officials our regrets for this turn of events.

Despite this setback (hopefully only temporary), we remain steadfast and undeterred in our unrelenting journey for sustainable and just peace.

I now call on everyone: “Let’s all stay the course together.”

Sec. Dureza: Inclusivity, sensitivity, keys to success of peace process

DAVAO CITY–In order to find a long-lasting solution to the decades-long rebellion in the country, there is a need to first address the roots of the armed conflict.

This was underscored by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza during the 13th Mindanao Island Conference held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, this city.

“The work for peace is not solely through negotiations with the other side. You have to address the root causes why people rise up against the government,” Sec. Dureza told the more than 200 provincial board members from across the country attending the conference.

He pointed out that negotiation with the various rebel groups “is only a small part” of what the national government is currently doing to push the peace process forward.

“[Formal talk] is only one of the paths to peace,” Sec. Dureza said, as he stressed that what is crucial is “providing support” for those “who are feeling excluded” and “who also [want] to have a part of what others are benefitting [from].”

The Peace Adviser likened the peace process to the “chicken and egg” dilemma which begs the question of what should come first – peace or development.

“They say that there is no peace because there is no development” and vice versa, Sec. Dureza said, but quickly added that “Both must be done simultaneously.”

According to him, “we should not wait for agreements to be signed”, and focus on “attend[ing] to the needs of the people on the ground.”

Sec. Dureza pointed out that peace agreements “raises the expectations of people,” such as what happened during the signing of the final peace accord between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 and the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014.

The signing of agreements, he said, should “not be the end all” of the peace process, as he challenged the delegates to the conference to craft legislation “that would respond to the needs of the people.”

“If we don’t respond, there will be unrest [and] dissatisfaction. They will look at government as unresponsive,” Sec. Dureza noted.

He explained that this is the reason why the national government is engaging the “larger peace table” which is the general public, as this is a more holistic and sustainable approach to peace-building.

Sec. Dureza emphasized that there must always be “inclusivity” in the peace process.

“People must not feel alienated. You will create discontent and unpeace if you only take care of those who fight the government. They (people) will feel dissatisfaction,” he said.

Sec. Dureza added: “There should be sensitivity and inclusivity [in the peace negotiations]. We must [always] put a peace lens to our projects.” ###

By | November 16th, 2017|News|0 Comments

Peace Buzz: no borders for peace

Peace Buzz: no borders for peace

Positive change and challenges are strange bedfellows. But over the course of two weekends, the two combined and brought into the nation a peaceful controversy.

From September 21 to October 1, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), participating Local Government Units (LGUs), and Civil Society Organizations launched the “Peace Buzz” – a nationwide peace caravan that showcased the government’s peacebuilding efforts and promoted the culture of peace.

The Peace Buzz made its journey through Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao; stopping by in significant places that play role in the peace process, namely: Baguio City, Quezon City, Legazpi City, the island of Samar, Caraga region, Davao City, Cotabato City, Iligan City, and Marawi City.

Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza underscored the importance of the peace caravan.

“There are many ways how to attend to peace. You have to do reforms. You also have to inculcate a climate of peace in the neighborhood and build relationships,” Dureza stated.

To put prime on the 2017 National Peace Consciousness Month, the Peace Buzz focused on OPAPP’s latest peace table under President Rodirgo  Duterte’s administration – the Peoples’ Peace Table. Its goal is to engage, meet, converse with and hear the concerns, inputs, recommendations of the youth, women, and indigenous peoples (IP) to advance the peace process in the country.

OPAPP Undersecretary Nabil Tan puts emphasis on the Peoples’ Peace Table.

“We believe each one has their own issues to talk about, and we believe that the signing of a peace agreement does not end all things and it will mean overnight peace. Peace is so illusive, peace will take time to nurture, peace will have to be prayed, done and pushed by the whole nation initiative,” Tan expressed.

Tan also stressed the meaning of this year’s peace month team “Puso para sa Kapayapaan. Magkaisa Para sa Bayan”.

“The positive traits that should bring positive changes should be anchored on compassion, unity and inclusivity. It should always be the thrust or the mantra to which engagement of all sectors who are for peace should unite,” The Undersecretary added.

Peoples peace table materialized – the Peace Buzz journey

Since the beginning of the Duterte administration’s Peace and Development agenda, OPAPP has been conducting peace conversations and multi-sector caravans, but never before was it turned into a nationwide expedition.

As the Philippines celebrated the International Day of Peace, the Peace Buzz made its first public appearance on the mountains of Cordillera region. Tribal elders performed customary prayer rituals to bless the Peace Buzz as it began its journey from the North to the South. The region’s unity was manifested through an interfaith prayer framed by the tapestry of Cordillera’s six provinces: Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province. It was then brought to the leaders of Marawi City to signify the Cordilleran’s solidarity with the distraught city during trying times.

In the National Capital Region, traffic situation and on-going road works didn’t stop the Quezon City (QC) LGU from partaking in the Buzzing experience. The annual tradition of the ringing of the World Peace Bell brought noise within the QC Memorial Circle premises, but what made it more significant this year was the cultural exchange of the Tagalogs and Cordillerans through the groups’ traditional dances, as the Peace Buzz brought with them students from the Baguio State University to join in the activity last September 22.

On the early morning of September 24, the Peace Buzz was greeted by the majestic Mayon Volcano, as it made its third stop in the historical city of Legazpi, Albay. Locals have lead the “Walk for Peace” that stretched from Bicol University to the city plaza and was joined by Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2017 and National Peace Ambassadress Elizabeth Clenci. A peace advocate at heart, Clenci paid homage to the Sagrada Familia Foundation by visiting its differently abled residents and entertaining their children through story-telling and educational tour within the municipality.

Visayan culture and hospitality was reflected in the island of Samar, as it pushed through a bike-led motorcade during a rainy morning in Catarman last September 25. In the evening, candles were lit as the island launched its “Peace and Prosperity Roadmap”, as well as the simultaneous induction of the Samar Women Action Network Congress and Youth Peace Congress in Catbalogan. The local festivities concluded with a peace concert and fireworks in the city plaza.

After crossing the Surigao Strait, the Peace Buzz docked in the shores of Caraga region, where it was welcomed with Mindanao-generosity. For two days, the municipalities of Caraga, namely, Butuan, Surigao, Santiago, and Bayugan celebrated its arrival through festivities, highlighted by the signing of the “Commitment for Peace” adopted by national and local officials and the residents of Butuan City, and the launching of the region’s “Dalan sa Kalinaw” or the “Roadmap for Peace”.

When it reached Davao City on September 29, the government and the communist rebels’ peace negotiations were contextualized through simultaneous events including a film showing dubbed as “PEACEtival”, and the induction of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) Monitoring Station which would enable closer and on-the-ground promotion of CARHRIHL in conflict-affected areas. MasterPeace Summit, a conference for the youth from across the country with the goal to provide further understanding of the peace process was also conducted. It aims for the participants to become peace builders in their own right

 

In the early morning of September 30, a band of more than 300 bikers greeted the Peace Buzz in the province of Cotabato. From the municipality of Midsayap they rode with the Peace Buzz to Cotabato’s city hall as part of the activity dubbed as “Kariling sa Kalinaw” or the “Bike for Peace” joined by both members and families of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The Peace Buzz then proceeded to the war-torn city of Marawi. The sound of firefights was no longer heard, and signs of livelihood were already evident in the Malabang Peace Corridor of government and MILF. The team witnessed the stories of survival, love and happiness as Saipodin “Bobby” Mariga recalled his reunion with his wife, Geraldine Mariga when she was retrieved on June 2017 through the Peace Corridor. Likewise, resident Camilia Baunto reunited with her husband, who has rescued by the AFP after four months inside the conflict zone.

To culminate the buzzing adventures and the peace agency’s month-long gains, OPAPP celebrated in the kindhearted city of Iligan on October 1. As gratitude to the assistance extended by the city to the internally displaced people, Marawi local government unveiled a peace gong in Iligan’s plaza. plaques of appreciation were also given to the provinces and municipalities of Lanaos del Norte and Lanao del Sur.

 

The Buzzing experience

Traversing the country on its archipelagic grandeur was no easy task. The 24-seater coaster donning the colorful 2017 peace theme was escorted by police highway patrol groups from Luzon to Davao City. They lead the Buzzers to safety until transitioning its guardian duties to the soldiers of the AFP upon crossing the Midsayap-Marawi-Iligan area.

One of its passengers, SPO2 Nova Billona of the PNP, described her experience as arduous but rewarding.

“Conducting the Peace Buzz was very risky considering the safety and security of the members due to lawless elements that spread throughout the country. Coordination was strenuous but very fulfilling on our part because when we went down to communicate with the people on the ground, even if our stay was short, it garnered positive impact,” Billona shared.

Billona also imparted that the Peace Buzz created a good rapport and relationship to the people, and served as an eye opener that the government is for every Filipino citizen. Through its peacebuilding conversations, Billona was reminded that everyone has a role to play in nation building through peace advocacy.

The launching and voyage of the Peace Buzz lets the whole country witness how government is willing to go the extra mile to attain peace. But it doesn’t stop there. Secretary Dureza shared that as long as there are broken relationships caused by conflict, OPAPP will continue its work relentlessly for a one nation and for a just and lasting peace.

“Conflict tears the moral fiber of people who are already close. The main work of OPAPP is to rebuild broken relationships which is very important in bringing about a united country,” Secretary Dureza noted.

###

Maranao youth leaders pledge as peacebuilders in Marawi rise

ILIGAN CITY –The sea of people fleeing astounded Norman Musa, 24, when he and his family left Marawi for Iligan as terrorists invaded the Islamic City.   

“You can see the fear on their faces. I personally saw dead bodies. I thought, ‘This is it. The war of religion will begin,” Musa narrated.

In the course of conflict, children from the evacuation centers were discouraged from going to schools. Likewise, people had started acquiring health problems, families sought for livelihood resources and children experienced trauma.

These, together with the delayed liberation of Marawi, has drawn the ire of the displaced persons.

“The anger and pain are clearly evident for the evacuees,” Musa expressed in woe.

Despite the challenges, he clings to the hope that Marawi will rise. And he wants to take part of it. “I want to teach my fellow youth that hope is still there for peace to be achieved in our city.”

In partnership with the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM), the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) provided a foothold on youth empowerment as it continues its early recovery program through a three-day Inter-Camp Peace and Leadership Training held in Linamon near Iligan City last October 4 to 6.

Twenty-six identified youth peace educators, including Norman, from six evacuation centers in Iligan City were nominated as representatives from the Culture of Peace orientation earlier held in July to strengthen their leadership and participation by means of equipping them with peacebuilding knowledge and skills.

Peace games, music and poetry sessions, reenactments, visual presentations and action planning were amongst the activities used to explore the leadership skills of the young peacebuilders.

According to Bai Rohaniza Sumnad-Usman, founder of TPBPM, the youth will play a pivotal role in the rise of Marawi City.

“The youth has energy, passion, and creativity that can be channeled into great things to the benefit of their communities. It is strategic that we capacitate them on conflict prevention, resolution, and transformation, and proactive peacebuilding,” she said.

Pairosah Faisal, 18, is optimistic that the youth will be instrumental in preventing future conflicts.

“It’s important for the youth to know the real essence of peace. We are the hope of this nation. Conflicts should stop in our generation,” Faisal noted.

In his message during his visit to the seminar, Joint Task Force Marawi Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera rallied the youth to work towards creating and maintaining an environment for peace to thrive in the communities.

“Now is the time to be part of the change. Make a difference on your communities,” Col. Herrera urged. “Be united and be brave…We are not created with hate; we are created with love. Let’s spread love to the world.” ###

By | October 7th, 2017|MILF, News|0 Comments

Munai inaugurates farm to market road

Rough roads will greet a person that would enter Barangay Old Poblacion, Munai, Lanao del Norte. These in turn hampers the development of the community. The road is plagued by potholes, boulders and stretches of rocky paths. Those who depend on the land for their living are hostage in such dire situation. But this is to change.

On October 4th 2017, the Ceremonial Turnover of the two-kilometer farm to market road under the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program was done. Under such programs, the local government unit of Munai, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) along with Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Agriculture went hand in hand to look into the concerns of food security and livelihoods of the Bangsamoro communities.

With food security and livelihood in mind the project aimed to a greater purpose of achieving peace. “Munai is a conflict area and as such it has been chosen to receive the program. This is a confidence building initiative of two enemies, mainly the MILF and the GRP. As such, each of the parties will have the responsibility in the work for peace. The Government seeks the funding and does the technical works whilst the MILF identifies the beneficiaries, individuals and communities.” says by Dr. Taugan S. Kikay of the MILF.

The two-kilometer farm to market road gave the constituents of Munai better access to health and education. It would help increase production, income and food security. But most importantly the road gives hope. As expressed by Munai Municipal Mayor Casan Maquiling, “Munai experienced the war in 2000, in 2004 and in 2008. OPAPP has given us a lot since then and we owe it to you our development and opportunities that would come due to your initiatives.” ###

By | October 6th, 2017|MILF, News|0 Comments

Hope, compassion reign over at the peace month culmination in Iligan 

ILIGAN CITY – Messages of hope and compassion reigned over here on Sunday (October 1) as the people of Marawi and Iligan exchanged symbolic gifts to celebrate and cement their relationship amid challenges brought about by the ongoing crisis.

A peace gong, which was erected at the city’s public plaza, was unveiled to show the people of Marawi’s deep appreciation to the people of Iligan for unconditionally accepting them and providing them a second home.

Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser, Undersecretary Nabil Tan, in behalf of Secretary Jesus Dureza, emphasized the need to further the peace building in the country. He led the banging of the peace gong along with Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra and Iligan City Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz.

Speaking on behalf of the people of Marawi, Mayor Majul Gandamra expressed his gratitude to the people of Iligan, saying that the city is “first” among others, which opened its doors to the distraught people of Marawi seeking refuge.

For his part, Iligan city Mayor Celso Regencia vowed that they will continue to provide the needed help and sanctuary to the displaced people of Marawi.

Kung tayo magkakaisa, ang Iligan City at ang Marawi City, wala silang (terrorists) lugar dito,” he said.

The crisis in Marawi has been running for almost four months since terrorist groups lay siege in the city.

“Let’s take away deep-seated biases and prejudices against each other,” Regencia said, adding that what is happening in Iligan shows the triumph of the people for coexistence.

Iligan City Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz said they have welcomed “the people of Marawi with open arms.”

“All of us desire peace in Mindanao. Peace will not come to us if we will not work for it. We have to work together,” he urged.

“Peace is not just the absence of violence. Peace should be based on justice, truth and love. Peace is having good relationship,” he noted.

Undersecretary Diosita T. Andot of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace (OPAPP) said the agency decided to culminate the celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month in this city because of the solidarity and compassion that have been reigning since the crisis began.

“The city of Iligan epitomized what peace is. When we opened our doors to the people of Marawi,” she noted.

She said the military campaign in Marawi is just part of winning the war against violent extremism.

“We are trying to win the war through might. The threat to our peace and security is huge.  We need the help of the security to counter violent extremism,” she acknowledged.

“However, there is also a need to pursue the healing process.  Hindi madali tanggapin at makakalimutan ang nangyari sa Marawi,” she noted.

“Even if the war will end, there is a bigger war. We need to fight for peace.  Addressing social injustices,” she urged.

OPAPP, which is leading the government’s celebration of peace month, has also completed the journey of its “Peace Buzz” here.

The Peace Buzz has been crisscrossing the country since September 21. It aims to promote a culture of peace throughout the archipelago.

“We should keep buzzing for peace na dapat po na naririnig sa Mindanao and buong Pilipinas,” Andot said.

“We need to strengthen the buzzing to reach every nook and corner of the country.  We need unity. It is a key to advance the peace,” she said, encouraging people to “defend peace up to our last breath.”

The people of Cordillera also gave the people of Marawi a framed peace prayer to show its solidarity delivered by the Peace Buzz from Baguio.

Part of the culmination activities is a food fair, where internally displaced persons of Marawi sold their products at the public square to augment their livelihood. ###

 

ASEAN members strengthen convergence for humanitarian action

A regional symposium for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was orchestrated to provide a stronger platform in addressing humanitarian challenges faced by the region held at the Manila Hotel, 2 to 3 October.

In his keynote address during the symposium dubbed Strengthening Convergence for Humanitarian Action in the ASEAN, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza acknowledged that violent extremism as an emerging problem that the Philippines and all ASEAN countries are experiencing.

He said that modern technology has been an effective tool in countering the extremists in war, but with a great price.

“We see missiles, smart bombs today and drones providing how to kill efficiently and quickly the enemy. With all these emergence of technology now, we lose the humanity part. Sometimes, we forget what effect it has to victims, especially innocent civilians,” he expressed.

Dureza added that Marawi is an “eye-opener” to all countries because violent extremism became a “new game that has no rules that go for humanitarian law, human rights or respect for non-combatants”.

“The recent experience in Marawi is a very big learning experience for us. While you have seen the tragedy of man’s inhumanity to man, I think we should draw lessons from this in order that we can better improve on how we can jointly handle similar situations that will eventually become bigger and more threatening if we in the ASEAN still continue to consider it less important,” he shared.

The two-day regional dialogue is set to explore convergence amongst the fundamentals of the International Humanitarian Law, religious norms and customary practices that would eventually lead to a set of recommendations highlighting best practices in addressing humanitarian issues.

Further discussions in this symposium included the challenges faced in translating humanitarian principles and religious values into practice, ways to increase protection of vulnerable groups, health care, children and education, persons deprived of liberty while addressing conflict, and the ways forward.

Around 170 participants from various stakeholders took part in the discussion including representatives from ASEAN member states, International Committee of the Red Cross, ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, national government agencies, international organizations, civil society organizations and OPAPP.

Almost 400 peace bikers accompany Peace Buzz in Cotabato City

COTABATO CITY –  Almost four hundred peace bikers, composed of bikers association, security sector, members of the Moro fronts,  accompanied the arrival of Peace Buzz here on Saturday.

The Peace Buzz made its seventh stop out of total nine stops, crisscrossing the country to promote and build culture of peace.

The bikers rode along with the Peace Buzz in the 45-kilometer stretch from the town of Midsayap in North Cotabato province to Cotabato.

In a short program at the City Hall or People’s Palace, Asec.  Dickson Hermoso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) emphasized the needed healing process brought about by the armed conflict.

He said OPAPP has been leading the government’s peace advocacy not only to reach political settlements between the government and the rebel groups but also promote culture of peace.

“What I saw earlier was unity for peace,” he said referring to the large numbers of bikers who joined the bike for peace dubbed as “Kariling sa Kalinaw.”

Hermoso said OPAPP is now on the process of getting all sectors to pursue the peace agenda of the Duterte administration.

Rodolfo Palo, 51, an employee of the city government and a member of the Cotabato City Government Employees Bikers Association, said he was overwhelmed as it was his first  time to complete 48-kilometer ride.

“It was tiring but with the help of other bikers, I was able to overcome the challenges,” he said.

Palo noted that he was glad to see some members of the Moro fronts joining the event.

In behalf of City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, secretary to the Mayor Anaceto  Rasalan said “development is anchored on the existence of Peace.”

“In the work for peace, 90 percent should be supported by the community. The government can’t do this alone. There should be an active engagement with the community,” he said.

“Let’s set aside tribal and religious differences.  Let’s think as one, as Filipinos,” he urged.

“Through this bike for peace, let this be the start to promote peace,” he said, adding this kind of activity will promote common understanding.

For its part, MGen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of the Joint Task Force Central, said the military will continue to support peace initiatives.

“We in armed service also yearn for peace. We are with you, venturing in varied approaches with force as the least in mind,” he said.

The Peace Buzz is a caravan that has been traveling since Sept 21 as part of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ (OPAPP) campaign in the celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month.

The colorfully-designed bus started its journey in Baguio City.  It then proceeded to Quezon City with the ceremonial ringing of the World Peace Bell. Afterwards, it went to Legazpi City, Albay and was joined by Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2017 and National Peace Ambassadress Elizabeth Clenci, to entertain the children and disabled folks residing in Sagrada Familia Foundation. In the island of Samar, it witnessed the launching of Samar’s “Peace and Prosperity Roadmap”.

The Peace Buzz has just made a stopped in the cities of Butuan and Davao as part of its Mindanao leg prior to Cotabato.

The bus is expected to make a brief stop at Marawi in solidarity with the people affected the ongoing armed conflict. The bus will then proceed to nearby city of Iligan to culminate the month-long peace celebration on Oct. 1.

Over the years, OPAPP has been leading the nationwide celebration of the Month of Peace every September.

This year’s theme is “Puso Para sa Kapayapaan, Magkaisa Para sa Bayan.” ###

 

GRP unveils CARHRIHL monitoring station

Secretary Jesus Dureza led government officials in unveiling the marker of the first GRP compliance monitoring station under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRHIL).

“Respect for human rights is something we will always have to adhere to and strengthen,” said Dureza in his message.

Dureza is head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“Today’s launching of the GRP Monitoring Committee’s Mindanao Station is yet another important milestone in the government’s earnest efforts to actualize this manifestation,” GRP Panel Chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also said in a message read by panel member Antonio Arellano.

The monitoring station is the first to be established by the Philippine government since it signed the CARHRIHL with the National Democratic Front NDF) in March 1998.

It will receive reports and complaints of “non-compliance” of the provisions of CARHRIHL in the 10 conflict-affected regions where the monitoring stations will be established and endorse it to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC).

CARHRIHL is by far the first and only agreement signed among the five substantive agenda in the GRP-NDF peace negotiations.

“Today’s launching is clear evidence of the government’s commitment to abide by its duties and responsibilities in the pursuit of lasting peace in our country and a display of this administration’s willingness to go the extra mile despite the serious difficulties that we have been facing along the way,” Bello explained.

The GRP panel chair is in Kuwait and was not able to attend the launching.

Dureza said the government would like to see the mechanism of the monitoring committee already working on the ground.

“We will test its (JMC) functionality,” Dureza added.

Although CARHRIHL was signed in 1998, the JMC was not formally constituted until the Rome 3rd Round of Talks under the Duterte administration in January this year.

“Perhaps this will encourage our counterpart across the table to also set their own,” the OPAPP secretary added.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and NDF has been suspended over continued rebel attacks that included the ambush of the convoy of Presidential Security Guards in Carmen, Cotabato Province on July 19 this year.

But Dureza said he is confident both parties will be able to hurdle the impasse and that both panels will soon resume negotiations.

He declined to further elaborate.

GRP Panel Member Antonio Arellano said the setting up of monitoring stations is a “unilateral action” on the part of the Philippine government.

“The document (CARHRIHL) promotes the rights of the Filipino people.  It humanizes the ongoing armed conflict.  It seeks to protect both combatants and civilians against violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Arellano explained.

The pilot GRP monitoring station will be housed at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines building inside the Hall of Justice Compound in Davao City.

Former Iligan City mayor and lawyer Franklin Quijano is the chair of the GRP Joint Monitoring Committee.

In pursuit of peace, youth leaders call for inclusivity

When the Marawi conflict started, Yassen Ala, who is in Turkey that time, could not believe that extremists have wreaked havoc on the Islamic City.

“I was born in Marawi, I have some relatives there. If my parents were there, I could not imagine what I’ll feel if they walk from Marawi to Iligan,” he said.

Ala, a youth leader, is among the many Muslims that are shocked by the sudden rise of violent extremism, particularly in the youth sector, although he mentioned that there were already signs that they are the most vulnerable to be recruited by terrorists.

“Some of these young recruits are orphans, their parents or close relatives killed due to conflict,” Ala said.

A deviating religious setting and the economic conditions of these conflict-affected areas also played important factors to the recruitment.

“They (youth) are not only orphans, they’ve been taught the extreme and incorrect interpretation of the religion and they are also (literally) hungry.”

The causes of youth radicalization and the ways to counter it are part of the topics discussed in a three-day MasterPEACE Leadership Summit held in Davao City organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Around 80 youth leaders from all over the country participated in the summit, which aims to equip the youth with the knowledge of peace and peacebuilding initiatives.

In his welcome remarks, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Nabil Tan urged the youth to involve themselves further on the peace process.

“After this MasterPEACE Summit, we are hoping that you can craft a master plan to help us on our peace initiatives,” Usec. Tan said.

With the root causes of violent extremism identified, Yassen Ala, who is also a delegate of the summit, believes that the youth should take a more active role in peacebuilding, particularly in ensuring that the message of peace is being propagated on the ground.

“Aside from capacity-building and inclusion of Moro history in school’s curriculum, we are calling the government to give us access to dialogue with our fellow youth in universities and other platforms so we can prevent the spread of violent extremism.” ###