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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ASEAN members strengthen convergence for humanitarian action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost 400 peace bikers accompany Peace Buzz in Cotabato City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In pursuit of peace, youth leaders call for inclusivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Peace Buzz makes stopover in PRRD hometown

DAVAO CITY — Dabawenyos from all walks of life flocked to the iconic Rizal Park here to welcome the arrival of the Peace Buzz in this southern Mindanao city, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Peace Buzz is a peace caravan that aims to promote the culture of peace, understanding and unity across the country.

In his remarks during a press conference, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza explained that various community-initiated activities will be conducted in areas where the Peace Buzz is scheduled to make a stop.

“This shows that the locality itself, the public and private sector, are as interested as the [national] government in the work for peace,’ Sec. Dureza said.

“This work for peace should not be exclusively a responsibility of government but more so, the responsibility of the private sector,” he added.

In order for genuine economic development to take root, Sec. Dureza emphasized the need to make people feel that the government is taking care of them.

“A lot of the alienation of the sectors [occur] where we have a lot of conflict, where many of them feel that they have been abandoned by government and they have not benefitted from it,” he pointed out.

To address this concern, the presidential peace adviser underscored the need to “reach out to those people who feel that that they have been excluded” from the mainstream of development.

“They must be there for inclusivity in our work for peace,” he said.

Sec. Dureza also called on members of the private sector, particularly civil society groups such as the Rotary and Lions Club not to limit their assistance to their respective communities but also to “go out to the hinterlands where the people badly need our attention.”

“There are many ways of doing peace such as improving the lives of people on the ground [and] providing them with the support that they need so badly and have been deprived from them,” he said.

The Peace Buzz kicked off its journey in Baguio City on Sept 21 and has made stops in the cities Quezon, Legazpi, Catbalogan, Surigao, and Butuan.

Its nine-day trip will culminate in Iligan City on Oct 1.

Over the years, OPAPP has been leading the nationwide celebration of the Month of Peace and has been working closely with members of civil society to bring the message of peace among the various sectors of the community, especially in conflict affected areas in Mindanao.

The theme of this year’s Peace Month celebration is “Puso Para sa Kapayapaan, Magkaisa Para sa Bayan.” ###





Lumad voices, top priority in Butuan

BUTUAN CITY – On its pursuit of just and lasting peace anchored on inclusivity and unity, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ (OPAPP) Peace Buzz made its fifth stop in Butuan to converse with the Lumads, Wednesday morning.

During a press conference, Undersecretary Diosita Andot, imparted that OPAPP is using this opportunity to focus on peace education and discussions with the Indigenous People (IP) to merge their aspirations with OPAPP’s vision on attaining a just and lasting peace.

“Mayroon tayong peace tables for the IPs alone and this is a very good development because, whereas in the past, ang sektor na ito ay hindi halos naririnig. Ngayon, binibigyan natin sila ng puwang at binibigyan talaga natin sila ng all possible opportunities to participate in the peace process,” Andot shared.

(We have a peace table for the IPs alone and this is a very good development because, whereas in the past, this sector is not much heard. Now they are given a venue, and all possible opportunities to participate in the peace process.)

Simultaneously, activities were held in Caraga’s regional center, including the Communicator’s Peace forum on Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Since the inception of OPAPP’s IP Peace Table, the peace agency has been open to hearing out the Lumads of CARAGA. From the men and women, to their youth sectors, peace conversations were conducted in the region.

As part of the region’s efforts on celebrating the National Peace Consciousness Month, Caraga launched the “Dalan sa Kalinaw” or the “Roadmap for Peace”, whereas one of its four main points, focuses on the IPs of CARAGA.

Through the theme “Puso Para sa Kapayapaan, Magkaisa Para sa Bayan”, OPAPP placed highlight on the people’s passion for peace and their efforts in working together amidst diversity.

Butuan supported this call through the city’s “Commitment for Peace”, signed by national and local officials, and the residents of Butuan City.

The Peace Buzz is a caravan that will travel nationwide to showcase and highlight the peacebuilding efforts of the government and provide updates on developments in the peace process. The Peace Buzz will drop by key cities to engage and collaborate more with different stakeholders.

The Peace Buzz kicked off in Baguio City with the framed prayer offering for people of Marawi residing in Iligan highlighting the event. It then proceeded to Quezon City with the ceremonial ringing of the World Peace Bell. Afterwards, it went to Legazpi City, Albay and was joined by Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2017 and National Peace Ambassadress Elizabeth Clenci, to entertain the children and disabled folks residing in Sagrada Familia Foundation. In the island of Samar, it witnessed the launching of Samar’s “Peace and Prosperity Roadmap”.

The Peace Buzz will continue its Mindanao journey in the “Crown Jewel” city of Davao, followed by a stop in Cotabato City before concluding in Iligan City for the closing of the peace month on October 1.



Even before Marawi erupted, former Mayor Omar Solitario contacted me about possible incidents involving the Mautes as his brother, also former Mayor Pre Salic was a relative by affinity of the Mautes in Lanao. He volunteered to help. OPAPP then provided support in his plans of putting back in operation a local radio station that had stopped due to the need to install a new antenna to mobilize listeners how to counter violent extremism. He even published a small book on how to deal with the emergence of violent extremism.

I also arranged a Davao meeting with the President where he offered help. After the meeting, I got him on a consultancy arrangement with OPAPP.

When Marawi erupted, he was sending me timely situation updates and offered if he could initiate talks with the Mautes. After consulting others, I advised him to first refrain from dealing with them as the situation was still fluid consistent with government policy that we cannot undertake peace talks with plain terrorists.

Subsequently, when his name was included in the arrest orders pursuant to the declaration of martial law, I revoked his consultancy arrangement with OPAPP. He later informed me that he left Marawi City and stayed in a safe sanctuary outside the city but he kept in touch making suggestions on how to deal with the developing incidents. He was distressed why his name was included in the list. At one time, when the President was in Cagayan de Oro monitoring Marawi, I arranged his phone call with the President . The president told him over the phone that he instead should talk to me. So I continued handling him.

Later on I was informed that there was an arrangement for him to meet with National Defense Secretary Lorenzana to discuss how he could help government. Since his name was still in the arrest order and in order to enable him to meet with the Defense Secretary in Iligan City or in Marawi, I recommended that a clearance from the SND be issued to allow him to safely travel to meet the SND for the purpose considering there were AFP checkpoints and his name was on the arrest list. I talked with Sec Lorenzana and I was told that a clearance for him was being issued, including his two sons (the latter two not being included in my representations as I did not know them and their activities.)

During our cabinet security cluster meeting at Camp Aguinaldo, I was furnished copies of the clearances signed by Sec Lorenzana and I emailed the copies to Former iligan Mayor Franklin Quijano to pass them on to Omar Solitario. I also later called Solitario that he should directly arrange the planned meeting with SND as OPAPP does not get involved in AFP operational matters.

Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on his meeting with President Duterte regarding updates on the peace process with some Cabinet members, including Secretaries Silvestre Bello III, Liza Masa, Judy Taguiwalo, and Rafael Mariano at Malacañang

We met with President Duterte until late last night and discussed the directions and possible next steps in our peace engagements with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), the Bangsamoro, the Cordillerans, and the other stakeholders.


PPRD, a President for all – OPAPP official

DAVAO CITY—A top official of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has said that President Rodrigo R. Duterte does not distinguish between friend or foe and is willing to go to great lengths to push forward the peace process in Mindanao.


Bangsamoro civil society organizations in Western Mindanao urge Moro leaders to work for the common interest of the Bangsamoro people

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Unity among Moro leaders is a key to advance the common interest of the Bangsamoro people and ultimately bring peace in Mindanao, civil society organizations said.


By | November 14th, 2016|MILF, MNLF|0 Comments