Dureza: Peacebuilding should be done ‘peace by piece’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust fund to continue dev’t projects in 6 MILF camps

Taguig City — The Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) for Reconstruction and Development Program Phase II (MTF-RDPII) will begin implementation and continue the delivery of socio-economic interventions in the six previously acknowledged MILF Camps in the provinces of Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, following the signing of the Program Partnership Agreements in this city last April 10, 2018.

The MTF, co-chaired by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the World Bank (WB) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), is a multi-donor trust fund facility established in 2005 to consolidate international development assistance for the socio-economic recovery of fragile communities in Mindanao.

The six identified camps are Abubakar-as-Siddique, Omar, Rajamuda, Badre, Bushra, and Bilal.

The MTF is administered by the WB with contributions from the European Union and the Governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, the United States, and Spain. Roughly US$ 4.5 million has been allocated for the implementation of the second phase of the program with Community and Family Services International (CFSI) as the Trust Fund Recipient and the BDA as the Implementing Partner.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza, in a message delivered by Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion, expressed gratitude to the MILF, WB, CFSI, BDA, the international development partners and other partners for peace for their “zealous dedication to ensure that the Normalization track will move forward.”

In 2014, the Government of the Philippines and the MILF agreed to undertake measures for the transformation of camps by signing the Annex on Normalization as provided by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Since then, MTF has been proactively carrying out camp programs like livelihood, socio-economic, and infrastructure interventions as well as implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS). Around 70,000 individuals in 31 communities in these fragile areas have benefitted from these initiatives.

For her part, WB Philippines Country Director Mara Warwick guaranteed that the WB together with partners under the MTF are “committed to continue supporting efforts that enhance the prospects for peace in Mindanao.”

“We look forward continuing to accompany the government, and especially OPAPP, as well as the MILF in the pursuit of peace and development in Mindanao and the implementation of the peace agreements,” Warwick said in her remarks.

The signing ceremony was attended by OPAPP’s Donor Coordination and Partnership Unit (DCPU) Director Arvin Chua, Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga of the MILF, Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan of the BDA, Dr. Steven Muncy of CFSI, and the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation Director General Juan Pita.

By | April 12th, 2018|MILF, MNLF|0 Comments

Dureza promotes unity amidst Filipinos’ diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qualified teachers to stay under BBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GPH, MILF commit to sustain gains of the 4-year old CAB 

MANILA, March 27, 2018 – The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) affirmed their commitment to pursue the milestones gained since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) during the celebration of the peace agreement’s 4th anniversary held today in Pasig City.

In his remarks, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Undersecretary Nabil Tan commended both parties for continuing the legacy of CAB through strengthened partnership for four years.

“The Bangsamoro Basic Law is not just a part of the implementation of the CAB but is meant to address the commitment of the government with the MILF and the Bangsamoro people. The milestones of the peace process are a reminder of how far we’ve come after the signing of CAB in 2014.” he said.

The CAB is the political settlement between the government and the MILF that signaled the end of 17 years of intensive negotiation and started the normalization phase towards achieving peace in this war-torn part of the country.

Since its conception, CAB has been instrumental in maintaining a peaceful relationship with the Moro rebels, with socio-economic programs and security mechanisms put in place to ensure former combatants can get back to their normal civilian lives.

In a landmark event in the Bangsamoro Peace Process, 75 high-powered and crew-served weapons from 145 MILF combatants were ceremoniously turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) on June 16, 2015.

Another landmark in the cooperation between both parties was the creation of the Peace Corridor during the Marawi siege, paving the way for the retrieval of 255 civilians trapped in the war zone and allowing access of humanitarian aid to the displaced civilians.

In his message during the celebration, MILF Implementing Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal urged both parties to continue banking on the gains of peace process, asking the stakeholders to continue supporting the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“The CAB, BBL, and the comprehensive peace process is not for the benefit of the MILF but about addressing the historical injustices suffered by the Bangsamoro communities. The peace process hopes to achieve the contribution to the prosperity and resilience in Mindanao such as job opportunities for the youth, education for our children, infrastructures, incomes for home-grown businesses, and delivery of primary services especially to conflict-affected areas.” he said.

The proposed BBL is a legal document which will operationalize the final peace agreement with the MILF. The Senate and House of Representatives are expected to pass the law in May.

“This long-awaited legislation (BBL) will serve as the core of a regional government, one that is stronger than ARMM,” ANAK Mindanao Party List Representative Amhilda Sangcopan said during the celebration.

“ANAK Mindanao believes that the true spirit of law-making is drafting the laws that address the needs and aspirations of the most-pressing interests of the Bangsamoro people,” she added.

By | March 27th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Imams, youth sector, CSOs in Lanao del Norte support BBL passage

Tubod, Lanao del Norte — Representatives of the youth sector, religious sector, and civil society organizations (CSOs) in Lanao del Norte urged the House of Representatives to pass the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The groups made the appeal during the 3rd leg of the out-of-town public consultations spearheaded by the Joint Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity of the Lower House held here on Thursday, March 15.

Acmad Guro, representative of Imams in the Municipality of Matungao, said the BBL is the “win-win solution to the Bangsamoro problem.”

He also said the passage of the proposed measure is not tantamount to establishing a separate government.

“Hindi ho kami hihiwalay sa ating republika. Ibalik lang sana sa ang nawala sa amin sa pamamagitan ng BBL,” he said.

One of the issues the proposed BBL seeks to address is the forced acquisition of land properties of Muslims and Lumads dating back to the Philippine colonial era.

Aliodin Mica, youth organization leader from the Municipality of Munai, lauded the BTC version of the proposed bill for recognizing the rights of the youth.

“Nakalagay dito iyong kailangan ng mga kabataan ngayon,” he said while raising a copy of the draft bill.

The League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), a network of more than 60 civil society organizations accross Mindanao, said it regards the BTC version as “the concrete roadmap to pave way for genuine and lasting prosperity in the Bangsamoro.”

“This will give justice to the people who have long been suffering the bitter pill of the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao,” Emram Mohamad said on behalf of the LBO.

The proposed BBL, which was drafted by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte, seeks genuine autonomy and is set to address the political marginalization and historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro. This version has been adopted by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez when he sponsored this as House Bill No. 6475.

The Joint Committees of the Joint Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity are now holding committee meetings to finalize a substitute bill considering the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro entered into by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014 and the results of the public consultations and hearings. ###

By | March 23rd, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

GPH-MILF peace implementation panels gear up for BBL passage

DAVAO CITY — Representatives of the various normalization bodies under the Government of the Philippines–Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GPH-MILF) Peace Panel gathered here early this week to discuss ways to strengthen existing peace mechanisms and reaffirm their commitment to the peace process.

In a two-day workshop spearheaded by the World Bank and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the normalization bodies recommended key activities they can jointly carry out, particularly in preparation for the passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The normalization bodies have been instrumental in sustaining the gains of peace in Mindanao, particularly after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the GPH and MILF in 2014.

In his remarks during the event, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Nabil Tan said there is “a very good chance” the BBL will be passed.

Undersecretary Tan, who also chairs the GPH Peace Implementing Panel, called on the various normalization bodies to focus on strengthening security and confidence-building measures.

As a resource person during the Senate and Congressional public consultations on the BBL held in selected areas in Mindanao, Tan witnessed the outpouring of public support for the proposed law, which seeks to establish an autonomous Bangsamoro government and territory.

Undersecretary Tan emphasized the need for the normalization bodies to establish time frames for the implementation of joint activities, saying the GPH-MILF peace process is now in the “intensified phase of the implementing stage.”

“Let us persevere. Let us not give up. Let us continue to advocate that the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed,” he said.

For his part, MILF Panel Implementing Chair Mohagher Iqbal, who was himself a resource person during the Senate and Congressional public consultations, said he remains optimistic the proposed law will be approved by Congress.

“All directions point to the positive outcome of the BBL,” he said.

Iqbal said this is the reason the conduct of the workshop was timely as it will help concretize what to expect when Congress passes the BBL.

Iqbal also said the MILF can be a more reliable partner “when everything is settled” through the passage of the BBL.

“We are in partnership mode,” the MILF leader said. ###

By | March 22nd, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

OPAPP, UN bodies to implement capacity-building programs in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, 14 March 2018 Implementing partners of the United Nations Peace Building Fund (UNPBF) on Wednesday agreed to jumpstart the implementation of the programs and projects that will capacitate the future leaders of the Bangsamoro government and address root causes that drive violent extremism in some parts of Mindanao.

“Let’s hit the ground running,” Secretary Jesus G. Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said as he presided over the meeting of the Fund’s Steering Committee on Wednesday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao in this city.

The Steering Committee oversees the implementation of the projects and programs under the Peace Building Fund and is co-chaired by Dureza and UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Ola Almgren.

Other members of the Steering Committee are representatives of the UN Development Program, UN Children’s Fund, UN Women, and civil society groups.

The UNPBF was conceptualized in 2017 for the UN bodies to collectively help in the peace process, especially in the transition period of the establishment of the new Bangsamoro region.

The Bangsamoro government will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is enacted and ratified.

The passage of the BBL is one of the cornerstone policies of the Duterte administration and is intended to address the “historical injustices” committed against the Moro people.

Both houses of Congress are aiming to pass the law in May to pave the way for the Moro people in Mindanao to achieve their long-drawn aspiration for self-determination over their ancestral lands.

Aside from helping in the peace process, the UNPBF is also aimed at addressing violent extremism by empowering women, youth, and faith-based leaders.

This includes the protection of children and youth from joining armed groups and preventing an incident similar to last year’s Marawi crisis.

Dureza expressed his gratitude to the UN bodies for their continued support to the overall peace process, particularly in Mindanao.

“Thank you, UN, for your full support to the Philippine Government to achieve sustainable peace and development. The Philippines cannot do it alone. We need the support of the international community,” he said.

Almgren, for his part, said the UN has been committed to helping the government and stakeholders advance the peace process and implement the peace agreements signed between the government and the Moro fronts.

The UN and other international groups have been implementing peace-building programs to support the Bangsamoro peace process for decades.

The meeting on Wednesday was the first since the UNPBF was created last year. The Steering Committee meets on a quarterly basis to review implementation, provide strategic guidance for the project, and make course corrections should circumstances warrant them.

By | March 14th, 2018|MILF, News|0 Comments

Latiph vows establishment of Bangsamoro Women Commission

COTABATO CITY – Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Commissioner Maisara Dandamun-Latiph gave assurance of the establishment of the Bangsamoro Women Commission during her keynote message at the 2nd Bangsamoro Women Economic and Development Summit on March 14, 2018.

“I assure you, there shall be a Bangsamoro Women Commission created by the parliament to promote women’s rights in the Bangsamoro. Women should finally stake their claims in the table,” Latiph said in her message.

She also said 50 percent of the available positions in government service must be occupied by women and that women’s seats in the interim government and the Bangsamoro Council of Leaders should be guaranteed as well.

Latiph said the primary actions of women should be about empowerment so that they are informed of their rights and provided with trainings and strategies that contribute to women’s inclusion and participation in governance and peace building.

“We are here because we are strong and we survived. ‘Wag po tayo mahiya na umupo sa lamesa. Dapat po tayo mismo have our place dahil kung hindi tayo, sino? Nasa inyo po if we want or reject change (Let us not be afraid to sit on the table. We ourselves should have a place there; if not us, then who? It’s up to you if want or reject change),” she said.

The 2nd Bangsamoro Women’s Summit is a two-day consultation among Moro women, non-Moro indigenous women, civil society organizations, and government agencies aiming to strengthen constituency support on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

It also provides an avenue for discourse on insights regarding Moro women’s political participation in governance, peace building, and development.

It is a collaborative activity of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women, and Commission on Elections in celebration of the National Women’s Month.

By | March 14th, 2018|MILF, NAPWPS, News|0 Comments