HAGONOY, DAVAO DEL SUR (JULY 5, 2018) — “The doors for peace negotiations with the communist rebels are still open.”
This was the announcement made by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza during the celebration of the 65th Araw ng Hagonoy at the municipal capitol here.
Dureza bared that during a command conference held in Malacañang last night, President Rodrigo Duterte laid down his four “wishes” that would make the peace talks possible between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The command conference was attended by top officials of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“First, there will be no coalition government. Second, there will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax,” he said.
“Third, the venue of the talks will be local. And fourth, there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas,” Dureza added.
He, however, said that in case these “wishes” are not adhered to by the NDFP, local government units can still proceed with “localized peace engagements.”
Dureza pointed out that this move could be a viable option because LGUs “can find a way to connect to the rebels.”
“Because you (LGUs) know them, you can help them,” he said.
According to the peace adviser, those who are fighting government are doing so not because of ideology but due to a more basic reason.
“They are going against government because of need,” Dureza said.
“That’s why they burn equipment, do extortion activities. Government doesn’t want this to happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dureza said he is optimistic President Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on July 23, the day he will deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Both houses of Congress are set to hold bicameral sessions from July 9 to 13 in order to come up with a unified version of the BBL based on the respective substitute bills approved in the Lower House and Senate.
Dureza said that with the passage of the BBL, areas that have been left behind will be prioritized and given the attention they truly deserve.
“I believe that better things are ahead of us,” he said. ###
MANILA, April 27, 2018 – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza showcased the inclusive approach of the government in peacebuilding during a briefing with the Filipino community at the Philippine Consulate in New York City yesterday.
Fresh from his speaking engagements during the high-level meeting on peace and sustaining peace at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Secretary Dureza met with the group to underscore the importance of incorporating the public in the peace process.
“You have to address the bigger table. The bigger table is the public. Because even if I sign agreements with the smaller table (rebel groups), ‘pag hindi tinanggap ng publiko wala ding mangyayari (nothing will happen if the public does not accept it),” he said.
Citing the failure of the previous Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be passed by Congress in 2016, Dureza said legislators vote for measures consistent with the sentiments of their constituents.
Aside from engaging the general public, the peace adviser also emphasized the need to continue the dialogue with rebel groups that already have peace agreements with the government.
“Mayroon pa tayong mga nagrebelde sa gobyerno na tumalima na ngayon (There are a number of rebels who have now come back to the folds of the law). We cannot just leave them alone,” he said.
The government is currently working on the completion of the peace process with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army/Cordillera Bodong Administration.
Dureza said in all the efforts the government is undertaking, there is also the need to improve the lives of the people affected by conflict.
“Our work for peace is not only negotiations now. It is also a nexus with development. Kailangan nating ma-improve ang lives ng mga tao sa mga areas na yan. Buong bayan sana kung pwede (We need to improve the lives of the people in those areas. The whole country if possible),” he said. ###
PASAY CITY – The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will not only prevent violent extremism and terrorism, it will also bring sustainable economic growth in the country.
During the forum on the BBL with the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas held in April 23 at the SMX Convention Center, various officials said the BBL is the key that would convert the challenges of the Bangsamoro areas into opportunities.
In his message, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo Montenegro said good governance will pave way for the Bangsamoro region’s prosperity.
“Part of the reason there is little development in many areas is the lack of governance. If there is no governance, economic activities do not come in, and there are no local efforts to bring the area forward even though resources are available,” he said.
For his part, Bangsamoro Development Agency Chairperson Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan said it is not true that poverty will continue in the areas identified in the BBL once the law is passed.
“That is not true because the annual block grant would even be added in your allocated budget, according to the BBL. There would also be a special development fund of P100 billion. This fund will be spent for the next years is in order for the Bangsamoro to catch up with other regions in Mindanao and the rest of the country. So it’s not true that there’s no fund. There’s a huge fund and we just need to utilize it in the right way,” Dipatuan said.
Under the proposed BBL, the Annual Block Grants are to be automatically appropriated and released by the national government. For 2019, the block grant for the Bangsamoro political entity is pegged at P72 billion.
Director for External Relations Edgar L. Bullecer of the Paglas Group, Inc. further noted the opportunities the Bangsamoros’ human resource would bring when it comes to governance.
“From our experience in the last 22 years in the Bangsamoro, the human resource in the Bangsamoro is also willingly and able-ready to respond to the challenge of governance. The Bangsamoro can host investors and the Bangsamoro can adapt to the discipline on what is needed to persevere for economic development. With the BBL, the Bangsamoro has been willing, able, ready to respond to the challenge,” he said. ###
PASAY CITY, April 24, 2018 — “Kayong mga barangay leaders – nasa inyong mga kamay ang pagpapanalo ng BBL.”(Barangay leaders, the passage of BBL is all in your hands.)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. made this pitch in his keynote message at the forum for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with the Liga ng mga Barangay – Mindanao Chapter held yesterday at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.
“Malinaw po na kaya tayo nandito ay para masigurado na pagdating ng plebisito, overwhelming na ‘oo’ ang iboboto ng ating mga kababayan (It is clear that the reason we are here is we want to make sure that during the plebiscite, there would be an overwhelming ‘yes’ from our countrymen),” he said.
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has given full support to the law, believing that it will solve the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao. He also said the Senate and the House of Representatives have already promised to pass the BBL.
“Tingin ko naman ang ating mga botante ay maniniwala na kapag sinabi ng Presidente na ang solusyon sa problema ng labanan sa Mindanao ay BBL, lahat po sila [voters] ay boboto ng oo sa plebisito (I think the voters will believe that when the President says the BBL is the solution to the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao, all of them will vote yes in the plebiscite),” Roque said.
The forum with barangay leaders aimed to provide a brief background of the historical injustices committed against the Moro people. It also gave an overview of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the salient points of the BBL.
Lawmakers have committed to pass the BBL by the end of May this year. ###
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. ###
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.