OPENING STATEMENT OF PEACE ADVISER JESUS G. DUREZA – Fifth Round of Peace Talks

5th Round of Formal Talks GRP – NDFP 27 May 2017
 | Noordwijk Aan Zee
The Netherlands

WHILE WE HAVE GONE THIS FAR AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE ARE ROOTING/SUPPORTING US, THERE ARE CHALLENGES THAT WE MUST TOGETHER ADDRESS AS WE MEET HERE TODAY ON THE SCHEDULED 5TH ROUND OF PEACE NEGOTIATIONS.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE HAS GIVEN THE MANDATE AND STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS WHERE WE ALL CAN POSSIBLY CONVERGE, TAKING UNPRECEDENTED AND EVEN UNCONVENTIONAL AND NEVER-DONE-BEFORE ACTIONS AND DECISIONS TO SEEK PEACE;

THESE INCLUDE –
A) ENGAGING THE CPP/NPA/NDF ( CNN) EVEN BEFORE THE ASSUMPTION

INTO OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT DOING “BACK CHANNELING”TO RE- START THE LONG STALLED AND MORIBUND PEACE TALKS;

  • B)  INVITING THE OUTLAWED CPP/NPA/NDF TO NOMINATE MEMBERS OF HIS CABINET;
  • C)  IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVES, RELEASING PRISONERS FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES AND OTHERS ALREADY CONVICTED BY OUR REGULAR COURTS AND THOSE WHO ARE OLD AND INFIRM AND SICK;
  • D)  FOR A TIME, DECLARING A UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE AND HALTING

OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS AGAINST THE NPAS;

E) PERSONALLY WELCOMING AND MEETING SEVERAL TIMES WITH LEADERS OF THE CPP/NPA/NDF IN MALACANAN

F) DESPITE THE OPEN AND BLATANT ATTACK OF NPAS IN THE COUNTRY AND EVEN IN DAVAO CITY, THE PRESIDENT’S OWN HOME TURF, HE DIRECTED THE PANEL TO KEEP THE COURSE OF PEACE.

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HIS ACTIONS WERE DECISIVE THAT ENTAILED INVESTMENT OF VALUABLE SO- CALLED POLITICAL CAPITAL, BUT HE KEPT THE COURSE STEADY IN PROTECTING THE GAINS OF THE PEACE TALKS WHICH HAVE REACHED THIS UNPRECEDENTED STAGE.

HOWEVER, TODAY AS WE MEET HERE TODAY, THERE ARE SERIOUS

CHALLENGES THAT MUST BE ADDRESSED:

PLEASE ALLOW ME TO MENTION A FEW:

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THE NOTICEABLE UPSCALE OF INCIDENTS OF OFFENSIVE ATTACKS BY THE NPAS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

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THE SEEMING PERCEPTION OF THE BIGGER PUBLIC THAT THESE NPA OPERATIONS ARE IN OPEN AND PUBLIC DEFIANCE OF PRESIDENT DUTERTE WHO HAS CONSISTENTLY ACCOMMODATED THEM IN UNPRECEDENTED WAYS

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THE RENEWED SURFACING OF PUBLIC APPREHENSION QUESTIONING THE SINCERITY OF THE CPP/NPA/NDF IN THE PEACE TALKS;

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THE PUBLIC ADMISSIONS OF SOME PANEL MEMBERS OF THE CPP/NPA NDF

LEADERS THAT THEY HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THEIR FORCES ON THE GROUND;

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THE SUDDEN AND PERCEPTIBLE EROSION OF PUBLIC SUPPORT TO THE PEACE TALKS WITH STRONG MESSAGES RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLIC TO ALTOGETHER STOP PEACE NEGOTIATIONS;

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THE CLAMOR NOW TO PURSUE INSTEAD LOCALIZED PEACE TALKS;

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AND THE LATEST AND RECENT PRESIDENT’S PUBLIC STATEMENTS THAT HE WILL NO LONGER SIGN AGREEMENTS WITH THE CPP/NPA/NDF IF ALL OF

THESE WILL CONTINUE AND NOT ADDRESSED. ALL OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS NOW PUT AT GREAT RISK OUR EFFORTS TO STAY THE COURSE OF PEACE.

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BUT THE MOST SERIOUS DEVELOPMENT OF LATE AND WHICH NOW PUTS IN

GREAT JEOPARDY AS TO WHETHER OR NOT WE CAN STILL KEEP THE COURSE OF PEACE IN THIS PEACE TABLE IS THE BLATANT PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED DECISION OF COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE POLITICAL ORGAN OF OUR COUNTERPARTS ACROSS THE TABLE WHO ARE HERE, ORDERING THEIR FORCES ON THE GROUND TO ACCELERATE AND INTENSIFY ATTACKS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IN THE FACE OF THE DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO WHICH WAS PRINCIPALLY DIRECTED AT EXTREMISTS AND TERRORISTS WHO OPENLY AND DEFIANTLY CHALLENGED THE GOVERNMENT AND PUT TO HARM THE FILIPINO PEOPLE TRIGGERED BY THE STILL-ONGOING VIOLENT INCIDENT IN THE ISLAMIC CITY OF MARAWI IN MINDANAO.

BY SUCH DEFIANT, BLATANT AND SERIOUS CHALLENGE BY THE CPP/NPA/NDF DIRECTED AT THE GOVT UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF

PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE DESPITE ALL THESE GAINS IN OUR WORK FOR PEACE AND DESPITE THE PERSONAL SHOW OF GOODWILL AND TRUST THAT THE PRESIDENT NO LESS HAS EXTENDED TO THE LEADERS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE GOVERNMENT PANEL IS NOW LEFT WITHOUT ANY OTHER RECOURSE BUT TO ANNOUNCE, WITH DUE RESPECTS TO OUR COUNTERPARTS AND TO OUR FACILITATOR, THE ROYAL

NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT THAT IT WILL NOT PROCEED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SCHEDULED 5TH ROUNDS OF PEACE NEGOTIATIONS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THERE ARE CLEAR INDICATIONS THAT AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO ACHIEVING JUST AND SUSTAINABLE PEACE IN THE LAND THROUGH PEACE NEGOTIATIONS ACROSS THIS TABLE SHALL PREVAIL.

WE THANK THE ROYAL NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT WHICH HAS SO FAR STEADFASTLY AND FULLY SUPPORTED OUR JOINT WORK FOR PEACE FOR SO LONG. I TRUST IT WILL UNDERSTAND WHY WE AT THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT SIDE HAVE ARRIVED AT THIS DECISION.

AS WE ALWAYS SAY AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO SAY SO: THE ROAD TO PEACE IS NOT A WELL PAVED ROAD. IT HAS HUMPS AND BUMPS ALONG THE WAY. BUT LET’S ALL STAY THE COURSE IN THIS NOT- SO-EASY ROAD TO PEACE IN OUR LAND.

 

‘Weed out disinformation’ – Dureza to media

MANILA CITY –  “It is now  very important that our media organizations take the special effort of weeding out what is disinformation, what is propaganda and what is the truth,” appealed Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Jesus G. Dureza to the press during a dialogue yesterday.

The peace secretary noted that spreading false information and misleading the people are one of the tactics of extremists to cause terror in the public. He hoped that the civilian community, together with the media, help calm down the situation in Lanao del Sur by putting a stop to viral misinformation.

A day before his flight to The Netherlands for the fifth round of talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), Dureza said that the ceasefire mechanisms established under the peace process with the MILF will remain effective in stabilizing the situation in Marawi City. It will also be a crucial help in preventing terror to pursue its activities.

“It will not stop us from implementing the signed agreements. The different factions, or the ‘peace spoliers’, will be dealt with accordingly with our armed and security forces,” emphasized Dureza.

Previously in March 2014, the government signed a final peace agreement with the MILF that includes a ceasefire mechanism that allows local and foreign ceasefire monitoring, socio-economic assistance, civilian protection, security, humanitarian rehabilitation and development – a template in which the Duterte administration hopes to have with the communist rebels.

The declared martial law in Mindanao will help the civilian authorities outside Marawi City keep the peace within their localities, as added by the peace adviser.

Dureza also highlighted media’s role on the peace process: to mainstream the government’s peace and development efforts so that the Filipino people will support it.

“It is through you, members of media, who will be engaging the greater public. Get them to understand why we are doing this, why it’s necessary why we have to engage, and that they should also come around and should have some kind of ownership on the outcomes of our peace work. There and only then, that we can see some positive results in our engagement for peace,” said Dureza.

The fifth round of talks with the NDF is set on the 27th of May up to June 1st in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

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Statement on the CPP’s response to Martial Law

 

We are deeply disturbed that the Communist Party of the Philippines made a false reading of the intents of President Duterte in placing Mindanao under Martial Law.

The circumstances that precipitated, and the condition that warranted such declaration were matters of public knowledge. There was a need to restore law and order, protect the lives of the citizens and preserve private and state properties.

The President, in no uncertain terms, categorically declared he was not after the New People’s Army. He, in fact, reiterated his keenness on pursuing peace. We therefore find the CPP directive to the NPA to intensify attacks as totally misplaced borne out of a grossly distorted appreciation of the President’s intention.

At the very least, it was an insult to the candor and genuineness displayed by the President and the GRP Panel in talking peace. At worse, it betrays the absence of sincerity of the CPP in the negotiating table. Lest it be construed as abetting the criminal and terror acts of the Maute group and a gang of Moro bandits, we put the CPP to task to correct its error and recall its senseless order.

Against this backdrop, we reaffirm our commitment and remain confident in winning our quest for lasting peace.

SILVESTRE H. BELLO III
Chair, GRP Panel

Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza on Marawi City Incident

We are deeply saddened about the recent clashes reported in Brgy. Basak Malutlut and other parts of Marawi City.
We strongly condemn these terror acts that are committed against the people of Marawi City.
We call for prayers for the victims and for a peaceful solution to the situation. We also urge all peace-loving Filipinos to work together for peace and stabilization in Mindanao.
We call every Filipino to remain strong, and calm amidst these attacks – that everyone to be resilient in these trying times.
We also hope that this unfortunate event will not cause division and hate but rather build a strong camaraderie, unity in our nation. Let us show them that we are not afraid because we are one.
We have a President who is committed to achieve a peaceful and progressive country. He is looking everything in a strategic manner wherein he will push for a peaceful and final settlement with the different groups in the country. He is not only open but also eager to talk with the different rebel groups but he will also deal with the spoilers of peace.

OPAPP boosts Mindanao youth’s role in peacebuilding

DAVAO CITY – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza highlighted relationship-building as part of the youth’s role in doing peace work and urged them to determine ways in which they can contribute to peace in their own localities, during the Youth Peace Table Training in the southern city.

“What we are doing right now is actually not only for the present generation, but it is more importantly for your generation. Don’t wait for us to finish the peace negotiations. Instead, you do it yourselves and you should even take the lead as peace is a work of a lifetime,” Dureza stressed.

The peace secretary underscored the importance of social cohesion for peace and development to be sustained and locally owned by their communities as a counter measure for the violent extremism that is gaining popularity in the young sector.

“These are things that are practically happening now and these are things that you have also to know in looking at the whole spectrum of peace work. Look at your own locality and find out what triggers conflict there and you’ll have to address it there from then,” he challenged.

To recall, the paradigm of the Duterte administration does simultaneous peace and development efforts in order for peace dividends to be felt, thus addressing the need of the bigger peace table – the Filipino people.

“You’ll have therefore to slowly find out how you can bridge that so-called ideological divide. It takes time. It takes a lot of goodwill and takes a lot of building of trust. Thus, these are points that probably the young people who are still going to be doing this work in the ground should always keep in mind and remember, ” Dureza advised.

Dubbed as the “Kilos Kabataan Para sa Kapayapaan”, the three-day workshop provides an avenue for the young delegates to contribute their own inputs, knowledge and expertise on grassroots peace work, as well as capacitating individuals with the culture of peace and engaging them to draft an action plan.

Present in the training are the youth leaders and representatives from various schools and organizations namely the Youth for Peace Network, United Voices for Peace Network, Batang Transformers, Young Educators Convergence of SOCSKARGEN, Zabida-Nagdilab of Basilan, Youth Solidarity for Peace, Supreme Student Council, United Youth Acton Group  of Maguindanao, Junior Chamber International, Ateneo de Davao University, National Anti-Poverty Commission’s (NAPC) Youth and Student Sector and the National Youth Commission (NYC).

The workshop is set to run from 15-19 May and is part of the continuing consultation process of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in its call for a more inclusive and transparent peace process. It was organized in partnership with Miriam College’s Center for Peace Education, Agencia Espanola Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID), together with the Mindanao State University, Teach Peace Build Peace, Gen Peace, NAPC and NYC.

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Cordillera leaders call for GRP-NDF permanent ceasefire

The top local executives and civic leaders of the Cordilleras today ended their historic joint meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) with an appeal to both the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to agree to a permanent ceasefire and enable the full development of their communities.

In a joint statement signed after the two-day conference held in Baguio City, officials and members of the Cordillera Administrative Region RDC and RPOC declared their “commitment of support to the call to end violence and to the attainment of permanent ceasefire” with communist guerrillas.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, chair of both the RDC and RPOC, explained that the attainment of just and lasting peace is a key foundation to realize inclusive growth and sustainable development in the Cordilleras.

We believe that this will be realized through continuing peace negotiation, sustainable socio-economic reforms, and recognizing our right to self-determination through an autonomous regional government,” Domogan pointed out.

Aside from Domogan, other top local officials who participated in the joint RDC-RPOC conference include Governors Cresencio Pacalso of Benguet, Pedro Mayam-o of Ifugao, and Bonifacio Lawasan, Jr. of Mt. Province.

Also in attendance were officials of national government agencies that include the NEDA, DILG, DAR, DPWH, DepEd, DOE, DOLE, DOST, TESDA, DSWD, DOT, NCIP, PMS, PIA, AFP and PNP as well as community leaders from the private sector and non-government organizations.

he historic conference was held upon the request of the government panel negotiating peace with the NDF as part of their nationwide consultation-workshops on proposed social and economic reforms being discussed with communist guerrillas.

The consultation-workshop, held at the Albergo Hotel, also sought to solicit inputs from the local officials and community leaders of the Cordilleras regarding concerns on the proposed joint ceasefire agreement with communist rebels.

“The series of workshops is part of the government panel’s nationwide consultations with relevant stakeholders to collect inputs, test the validity of its positioning and encourage buy-ins for the on-going peace negotiations,” explained former Agrarian Reform Sec. Hernani Braganza, the panel member supervising the discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and joint ceasefire agreement.

The outputs of the consultation-workshop in the Cordilleras, according to Braganza, will be included as inputs to the fifth round of formal peace negotiation with the NDF scheduled in The Netherlands from May 27 to June 1, 2017.

One of the major inputs during the workshop was the Cordillerans’ declaration of support for a new agrarian reform program that will respect the Indigeneous People’s right to their ancestral domain.

The participants were also amenable to the other provisions of the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) submitted by GRP to the NDF, provided the reforms will not be implemented in conflict with traditions and culture of the Indigenous Peoples of the Cordilleras.

The local executives and community leaders maintained that any ceasefire agreement with the NDF must contain provisions prohibiting extortion activities and attacks on the civilian populace by communist guerrillas including destruction of private property and abduction.

Braganza noted that aside from CASER and joint ceasefire, the GRP and NDF panels will also discuss their respective positions on the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) on the next round of talks in The Netherlands.

“At the moment, discussions were being conducted extensively on CASER since forging an agreement on social and economic reforms is acknowledged by parties to be central to reaching unity and peace,” he explained.

“We will also focus on the joint ceasefire since forging a bilateral ceasefire is considered to be of parallel importance to provide an enabling environment for reforms to take place,” he added.

The government and the NDF had previously conducted four rounds of formal peace negotiations under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, achieving breakthroughs in CASER discussions, ceasefire agreement and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHR-IHL).

For CASER, both panels had agreed to accelarate the discussion through formation of bilateral teams that meet regularly in Manila in between formal rounds of peace negotiation. The discussions intend to flesh out an agreement on free land distribution for a proposed agrarian reform program.

During the fourth round of peace talks, held in Noordwidjk Ann Zee in The Netherlands last March, both panels also agreed to sign a joint ceasefire agreement that will provide cessation of hostilities pending the signing of a final peace agreement. The terms of reference (TOR) of the joint ceasefire is now under discussion in Manila.

The third round of peace talks, held in Rome last January, produced an agreement providing supplementing guidelines for the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the CARHR-IHL.

The CARHR-IHL was signed by the government and the NDF in 1998, but it was only under the term of President Duterte that it was made fully operational.

The agreement recognized the need to apply human rights principles when responding to the armed conflict. It obligated both parties to promote the respect of and adherence to international humanitarian law among its forces. It emphasized the urgency of protecting the civilian population.

 

Dureza to Suriganons: build community resilience to conflict

SURIGAO CITY – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza called on local officials and leaders of multi-stakeholder groups in Surigao provinces to organize local peace initiatives and strengthen community resilience to conflict in a peacebuilding conversation held here Monday (15 May) in time of the 116th Founding Anniversary of One Surigao.

Dureza visited Surigao City on Monday as part of the series of peacebuilding conversation and engagement with the general public referred to as the bigger peace table.

“People who want peace must fight for peace but do not leave that entirely to our local government officials, police and military forces. Citizens themselves must take the first step already, you must get yourselves organized, “he said in response to the key sectoral issues presented to him at the peace conversation, one of the highlights of Surigao’s foundation anniversary celebration held at the Provincial Gym.

He added that people and communities have the capacities to organize and transform conflict into opportunities for peace and local leaders should be able to strengthen this as a strategic priority for peacebuilding.

The key issues presented were the results of the multi-stakeholder peacebuilding conversation held 11 May in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte with over 150 representatives of civil society, IP, business sector, mining companies, lines agencies, religious sector and security sectors from all across Surigao.

Surigaonons pointed out major issues that the peace process has to address, among them are peace and security, environmental degradation, lack of livelihood and investment opportunities and need for more basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Amo untang hangyo sa gobyerno nga unta mapadayun tong panaghisgut sa kalinaw ug kahusay nga diin ang tribung Mamanwa nanag-iya ug nagpuyo sa amoang ancestral domain CADT 48 dinhi sa Surigao (We would like to appeal to the government to pursue peace and security efforts in CADT 48 area where the Mamawa tribe of Surigao live),” said Datu Emeliano Gede, leader of the Mamanwa tribe in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte, in a dialogue with Secretary Dureza and local officials of Gigaquit.

Members of the Mamanwa tribe said the armed conflict between the NPAs and government security forces has been a major threat to ancestral domains in Surigao. During conflict, IPs are at risk of being killed, injured or tagged as members of the NPA.

Dureza said that the government’s peace work with various rebel groups is being actively pursued, simultaneous with the implementation of development programs and projects in fragile and conflict-affected communities.

“There is no magic formula to the peace process. You have to work for it one step at a time but let us not wait for the signing of the peace agreement as we may already do peace and development work while the peace negotiations is ongoing,” said Dureza.

During the One Surigao anniversary celebration, Secretary Dureza along with Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas and local officials also led the ceremonial unveiling and inauguration of the newly-completed “Tulay sa Kalinaw” LASICAM bridge located in Brgy. Lahi and Sico Sico, Gigaquit.

The Php210M bridge was implemented under the DILG – PAyapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program in Surigao del Norte which provides conflict-affected and conflict-vulnerable communities in Gigaquit better access to social services and economic opportunities.

The One Surigao anniversary event and multi-stakeholder peace conversation in Surigao City was organized by the Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte in partnership with OPAPP, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples Regional Office 13, and Municipal Local Governments of Gigaquit and Claver.

The event gathered local chief executives, including barangay captains of the three provinces – Surigao Del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Island.

CASER first before end of hostilities

Signing of a comprehensive agreement on social economic reforms triggers discussion on ceasefire, and eventually end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

BAGUIO CITY – “CASER is the trigger mechanism that would lead to the discussion of constitutional reforms and end of hostilities,” said Government peace panel member and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza after a two-day consultation-workshop on the government’s proposed social economic reforms and ceasefire here in the city. This is a first on the series of regional consultations on the said drafts to be conducted nationwide.

The consultation-workshop aims to generate valuable inputs, comments, and suggestions from key officials and leaders of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) on the draft social economic reforms and ceasefire. It also aims to gather support for the ongoing peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Braganza, who also supervises the discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and joint ceasefire agreement explained that in order for the successful implementation of reforms, a security mechanism – ceasefire – has to be put in place.

“A ceasefire can provide a more conducive environment so that both Parties can talk freely and openly with minimal distractions. It also provides a breathing space especially in the conflict-affected areas. Ito ay may kinalaman sa delivery of support services and basic social services. Kung may ceasefire o may tigil putukan, local government, representatives of national agencies can freely move around. But more importantly, the civilians in the conflict areas can also conduct livelihood activities, businesses unhampered,” Braganza explained.

Braganza also emphasized that CASER is most important agenda being discussed in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

“CASER ang pinakamahalaga na agenda sa usapin ng peace talks. Hindi lamang with the National Democratic Front but also with government because we are talking about reforms. When we talk about reforms, we’re trying to reform government…we are trying to come up with reforms on policy issues, on program issues, on specific project to implement that specific policy,” Braganza said.

The outcomes of the consultation-workshop produced by the representatives from Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) will be included as inputs to the fifth round of formal peace negotiation with the NDF scheduled in The Netherlands from 27 May to 1 June 2017.

 

Regional peace and order mechanism in absence of a unilateral ceasefire

Braganza reiterated that the GRP panel is also looking at the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) which can be adopted by both GRP and NDF parties as a security mechanism if a ceasefire is not yet in place. An enhanced RPOC can also include government agencies not focused on peace and order to deliver basic services.

“Hindi pwede na ‘yung national government will decide on issues on buffer zones and area of temporary state without direct consultations with local government, without the participation of the local government. We have chosen the RPOC as the mechanism because this is where all the agencies of government can meet… it can also be a measure where local government can be empowered including security forces to address the most immediate and basic needs of the people especially in the conflict-affected areas,” Braganza said.
RDC, RPOC joint statement of commitment for peace

Immediately after the two-day consultation-workshop, RDC and RPOC released a joint statement on their commitment to working towards the end of violence and the attainment of a permanent ceasefire.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, who is also serving as the chair of RDC and RPOC combined said that the government is spending billions in addressing insurgency in the country instead of putting the money for the delivery of social services.

“We take note how much government is spending in addressing insurgency, aabot ng bilyon yan. If only this amount will be for socio-economic reforms, I am sure that the Philippine will not be as it is today,” Domogan said. ###

 

Cordillera officials discuss terms for peace with reds

Government negotiators tasked to secure peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF) motored to Baguio City today to hold a two-day consultation-workshop with government officials and community leaders of the Cordilleras on proposed social and economic reforms being discussed with communist guerrillas.
The consultation-workshop, being held at the Albergo Hotels, also seek to solicit inputs from the local officials and community leaders of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) regarding concerns on the proposed joint ceasefire agreement with communist rebels.
“This activity is part of the government panel’s nationwide consultations with relevant stakeholders to collect inputs, test the validity of its positioning and encourage buy-ins for the on-going peace negotiations,” explained former Agrarian Reform Sec. Hernani Braganza, the panel member supervising the discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and joint ceasefire agreement.
“We are your negotiators. What we want to discuss in the negotiating table with the NDF is your position on issues affecting your communities. Now is the time for the Cordillerans to speak up and voice out your concerns with regard to the peace negotiation,” Braganza added.
He explained that the outputs of the consultation-workshop, held under the auspices of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), will be included as inputs to the fifth round of formal peace negotiation with the NDF scheduled in The Netherlands from May 27 to June 1, 2017.
The government and the NDF had previously conducted four rounds of formal peace negotiations under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, achieving breakthroughs in CASER discussions, ceasefire agreement and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHR-IHL).
For CASER, both panels had agreed to accelarate the discussion through formation of bilateral teams that meet regularly in Manila in between formal rounds of peace negotiation. The discussions intend to flesh out an agreement on free land distribution for a proposed agrarian reform program.
During the fourth round of peace talks, held in Noordwidjk Ann Zee in The Netherlands last March, both panels also agreed to craft a joint ceasefire agreement that will provide cessation of hostilities pending the signing of a final peace agreement. The terms of reference (TOR) of the joint ceasefire is now under discussion in Manila.
The third round of peace talks, held in Rome last January, produced an agreement providing supplementing guidelines for the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the CARHR-IHL.
The CARHR-IHL was signed by the government and the NDF in 1998, but it was only under the term of President Duterte that it was made fully operational.
The agreement recognized the need to apply human rights principles when responding to the armed conflict. It obligated both parties to promote the respect of and adherence to international humanitarian law among its forces. It emphasized the urgency of protecting the civilian population.
Braganza noted that side from CASER and joint ceasefire, both panels will also discuss their respective positions on the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) on the next round of talks in The Netherlands.
“At the moment, discussions were being conducted extensively on CASER since forging an agreement on social and economic reforms is acknowledged by parties to be central to reaching unity and peace,” he explained.
“We will also focus on the joint ceasefire since forging a bilateral ceasefire is considered to be of parallel importance to provide an enabling environment for reforms to take place,” he added.
Braganza said the consultation-workshop in Baguio City is the first under the RDC and RPOC mechanism, and will be replicated in other regions in between formal rounds of negotiations abroad.
“We will try to bring to the negotiating table as many voices as possible. The final peace agreement is not for government, but for the entire Filipino nation,” he pointed out.