Bangsamoro youth leaders commit to peacebuilding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

OPAPP lauds exchange programs’ role in peacebuilding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multicultural Peace Fair highlights gains of peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House adopts transitional justice bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improvement of governance seen in new Bangsamoro region

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Academe urged to create more spaces for peace conversations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marawi folks pin hope on BOL ratification

MARAWI CITY,  September 8, 2018 — Residents are hopeful the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will help bring the needed rehabilitation and healing to this Islamic city.

Carrying banners printed with “YES” in bold letters, residents here, mostly students, declared their approval of the BOL inside the Dimaporo Gymnasium right inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) compound during a multi-stakeholder forum to educate the public of the salient points of the law on Friday afternoon.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had earlier said that the plebiscite will be on January 21, 2019.

Alimah Lacsaman, 22, a third-year AB History student of the Mindanao State University (MSU), said the crisis provided so many lessons on why there is a need to pursue peace in the Bangsamoro homeland.

“We endured 12 hours of traffic jams. We were stuck in the road as we hurriedly fled,  along with hundreds of thousands of others. To make things worse, my sister was scheduled for her cesarean surgery operations that day,” Lacsaman said as she narrated the harrowing experienced of uncertainty when the fighting broke out in their city between government troopers and a radical group.

“I must admit that before I didn’t have any idea what the law was all about. But when I joined groups which are advocating for its passage, and when I began reading the essence of the law, I became 100 percent supportive of the BOL,” she said.

She said as a history student, she realized that the law grants political power to the Moro people who for centuries have been fighting to regain self-rule over their ancestral lands.

“History is the study of past, to understand the present, and to say something about the future,” she emphasized as she vowed to help campaign for the ratification of the BOL.

According to Dickson Hermoso, the Assistant Secretary for Peace and Security unit of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and a member of the Government Peace Implementing Panel, normalizing conflict areas in Mindanao is among the priorities of the law.

“I saw the ugliness of the conflict but I also saw the real solution. What we are doing now is the ultimate solution to achieve peace in Mindanao,” he said, referring to the collective efforts to campaign for the ratification of law.

Although the BOL is largely anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro — a peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) — it includes key provisions of all previous Bangsamoro peace agreements signed between the government and the Moro fronts.

“BOL is not only a legal instrument but also a social document that would address the decades-old armed conflict in the Bangsamoro, as well as the recognition of historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro,” Hermoso said.

He said the passage of the BOL is “not the end of our work in attaining peace in Mindanao but it is a trigger for the Normalization Process as agreed by the government and the MILF.”

Normalization, he said, envisions conflict-affected communities to “return to conditions where they can achieve their desired quality of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods and political participation within a peaceful deliberate society.”

Hermoso appealed to the Bangsamoro people to ratify the BOL.

“As we prepare for the plebiscite, we call on all stakeholders… to watch over and safeguard the implementation and conclusion of the peace process in light of the full flourishing of our country’s stability,  development, and nation-building,” he said.

Another third year student, 19-year-old Fairouz Rasul who is taking up BS agricultural education at MSU and an active member of the Coalition of Moro Youth Movement,  Inc., said she has been supportive of the passage of a law that will grant genuine autonomy to the Moro people.

“I have been advocating the Bangsamoro peace process. There’s no other option but to pursue a peaceful settlement to the problem in the Bangsamoro,” she said.

Rasul, who lives less than a kilometer away from the main battle area in the city, said the trauma brought about by the armed conflict in Marawi should not happen again in Mindanao.

“We could see the actual bombings in the ground zero from our classroom windows. We couldn’t focus,” she recalled.

For Marjanie Mimbantas, a member of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, the youth should be active in the peace process.

“Take it from me. I was just a grade six student when the peace talks started between the government and the MILF. And I never thought that one day I’ll be part of the panel,” he told the audience.

“Why am I telling you these? It is to give emphasis that the young ones will be the ones who will continue the peace process,” he said.

“The youngsters should be active in this campaign. This is for our future,” he added.

The forum on Friday here is among the series of forums that the government, the MILF, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and other partner agencies have scheduled until the plebiscite is held.

The event is also part of the celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month which OPAPP is spearheading. ###


By | September 8th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peace Month|0 Comments

Re-shaping Marawi ‘peace by piece’

PROVINCIAL CAPITOL, MARAWI CITY, September 7, 2018 — The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) formally launched here yesterday its Social Healing and Peacebuilding Program (SHAPE) that will primarily benefit the residents of Marawi City.

The SHAPE Program’s main objectives are to enhance social cohesion, promote the concept of peace-building, and contribute to the improvement of the overall peace and security environment in the country’s only Islamic city.

In his remarks during the program’s launch, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza underscored the need for stakeholders to work together in repairing the social fabric that was torn during the five-month siege last year.

Dureza said OPAPP’s social healing initiatives in Marawi are designed to help the victims of the conflict recover by providing them a venue to express their anger, fears, and frustrations.

“In situations of conflict, people need to release their anger. If this can’t be done, the healing will take longer,” he said.

Dureza said there are still a lot of challenges that need to be addressed in the rehabilitation of Marawi.

“There is still a lot of work ahead of us. There are processes we need to follow,” he said.

Dureza stressed the people of Marawi should take ownership of the support programs implemented in the city, saying this will be the key to their recovery.

“You have to help yourselves. But first, you have to find peace among yourselves,” he said.

At the same event, Titon Mitra, country director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), lauded the positive attitude of the Maranao people.

“The Maranao spirit binds all of you,” he said.

He said the rehabilitation efforts to be carried out in the city should be based on the recommendations of the people themselves and not rely on the views of outsiders.

“You want programs that reflect your priorities,” he said.

Echoing Dureza’s observation that the reconstruction of Marawi will not be easy, Mitra threw his organization’s full support behind the city’s rehabilitation.

“All of us will do what we can to help you,” he said.

For his part, Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Office Manager and Housing Assistant Secretary Felix Castro said the psycho-social well-being of residents should be given equal attention by development planners.

“These programs will have a big impact on the rehabilitation of Marawi,” he said.

He then encouraged the people of Marawi to “find peace among themselves.”

“If we instill peace among ourselves, we will achieve our goals,” he said.

Meanwhile, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion highlighted the major components of SHAPE, which include Mainstreaming of Conflict Sensitivity Approaches in Local Development Planning (BUILDPEACE), Welfare Assistance to Vulnerable Entities or (WAVE), and College Educational Assistance Program (CEAP).

“It is in this context that OPAPP gives priority to the social healing of individuals, institutions, and society as a whole and reconciliation as a complementary program to the humanitarian actions being undertaken by government and its partners,” he said.

Under BUILDPEACE, the capacities of local governments on development planning will be enhanced by integrating conflict sensitivity and peace promotion (CSPP) with the World Food Program’s (WFP) relief efforts.

Through this initiative, the 72 beneficiary Kambalingan barangays will also produce their respective development plans based on an inclusive and participatory approach.

On the other hand, the WAVE project will enhance the capacities of barangay leaders on peace conversations and alternative conflict dispute resolutions.

The local officials will likewise be trained in facilitating psycho-social healing sessions while at the same time provide their barangays with health care services and equipment.

Meanwhile, CEAP aims to develop peace advocates by providing formation sessions and transitional cash assistance to underprivileged youth in Marawi and the rest of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Also during the event, 700 college students received study grant certificates under OPAPP’s CEAP project.

The event is part of the activities of the month-long celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month with the theme, “Mithiing Kapayapaan, Sama-samang Isakatuparan.” ###

By | September 7th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peace Month|0 Comments

GPH, MILF reactivate joint assistance mechanism for Marawi

MARAWI CITY,  September 6, 2018 — The Peace Implementing Panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reactivated on Thursday the Joint Coordination, Monitoring and Assistance Center (JCMAC), which was a key mechanism in rescuing hundreds of hostages at the height of the armed conflict in this city last year.

The new mandate of the JCMAC is to establish a neutral platform and a mechanism for the people of Marawi City and the Lanao areas to raise their concerns to the government and participate in the efforts to rehabilitate and rebuild Marawi City and the Lanao areas.

“We came out with the new version of JCMAC to act as a sounding board for the people affected in the crisis and to help them recover,” Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Undersecretary Nabil Tan said during the formal relaunching of the JCMAC inside the Dimaporo Gym at the compound of the Mindanao State University (MSU).

The JCMAC Version 2.0 (V2.0) headquarters will be located inside the MSU compound.

Tan, however, made it clear that the JCMAC is not a replacement of the ongoing efforts of the government in restoring normalcy in Marawi City.

The government and the MILF signed an agreement reactivating the JCMAC during a meeting early last month following the presentation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in Cotabato City.

Recalling the achievement of the first JCMAC, Tan highlighted the efforts of those who contributed in its successful implementation, particularly members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the MILF.

“The JCMAC has given us proud moments. Without the close coordination with the army and MILF, our work would have been very difficult,” he said.

Tan also lauded the assistance provided by civil society and foreign donor agencies in the relief and recovery efforts during the crisis.

“Each stakeholder contributed to these accomplishments,” he said.

Mohagher Iqbal, the chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, said their main goal is to provide help, in a modest way, to connect to various issues of the victims of the Marawi siege to the concerned government agencies.

“The MILF is here to continue to extend our modest help to our brothers and sisters,” he said.

“Let us be patient. Marawi will rise from the ashes,” he said.

As a testimony for the first JCMAC, Saipoding Mangotara, one of the victims of the siege whose wife was rescued by the volunteers, recalled the anguish during the month-long battle.

Saipoding shared how volunteers of the JCMAC helped him during the difficult times to rescue his wife.

“I will never forget you. My wife is now fully recovered,” he said.

The creation of the first JCMAC was an offshoot of a meeting between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the members of the implementing panels of the two parties, along with the top leadership of the MILF, at the start of the conflict in Marawi last year.

The JCMAC created two peace corridors: one to help extract trapped civilians in the conflict zone, and the other to provide a humanitarian corridor to bring needed food and other assistance to the victims of the siege.

The JCMAC V. 1 were able to rescue at least 255 civilians in the siege and allowed international and local donors to pass through the critical Malabang area to Marawi.

For Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza, the achievement of the JCMAC is the reason the two parties agreed to continue the initiative.

Dureza recalled what President Duterte said when the MILF expressed their intention to help solve the Marawi siege.

“Go ahead help in whatever way you can,” he quoted the President as saying.

Dureza said the strong partnership of the government and MILF is proof of the positive result of the Bangsamoro peace process.

“There is a huge difference. Things have developed. One step at a time. Transition from enemies to becoming friends, and becoming partners,” he said, referring to the relationship between the government and the MILF.

Although the siege devastated Marawi, there were also opportunities made during the crisis, he said.

Dureza went on to challenge the stakeholders to “widen the peace corridors” under the JCMAC initiative.

The event here coincides with the month-long celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month led by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. ###


By | September 6th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News, Peace Month|0 Comments