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Champions weave aspirations for peace

PASIG CITY, October 02, 2018 – Knitting together the collective aspirations of peace from different stakeholders, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) unveiled on Friday its “Peace Quilt” in Davao City.

“Each piece of the quilt sewn together symbolizes the work we are doing in bridging and healing divides and mending the torn fabric of our society,” Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion said.

The Peace Quilt is a visualization of the various peace stakeholders’ commitment and how they will contribute to achieve these aspirations.

Civil society organizations, the academe, religious sector, local and international non-government organizations, and national and local government agencies contributed to the creation of the quilt, which was sewn together to form a much larger piece.

The Peace Quilt contains statements such as “The peaceful are the powerful” and “Peace through inclusive dialogues” as well as artworks and symbolisms representing indigenous groups, Moros, and Christians.

Messages of peace were also weaved into the quilt as a unique way of articulating the common goal of peace amidst diversity.

“The Peace Quilt is the people’s collective aspiration for a peaceful, secured, dignified and bountiful life,” Asuncion said.

The quilt formed part of the culmination of the month-long celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month on September 28. This year’s theme was “Mithiing Kapayapaan, Sama-Samang Isakatuparan.” ###

By | October 2nd, 2018|Indigenous Peoples, News, Peace Month|0 Comments

National Peace Consciousness Month: Stories of hope, courage, and peace-building

DAVAO CITY (October 1, 2018) — For 15 young members of the Ata Manobo tribe, the culmination program of National Peace Consciousness Month on September 28 was both a day of celebration and of mourning.

With Davao City hosting the event, the scholars of the national government’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program being implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) came down from the hinterlands of Talaingod, Davao del Norte to tell their story.

Garbed in traditional dress, they stood teary-eyed onstage at the Rizal Park as they sang in their native language their gratitude to the national government for the assistance it had given them.

They also paid tribute to a fallen comrade, the 16th scholar who was abducted and killed by unidentified assailants after delivering rice to a military camp.

According to friends and relatives, he was a responsible, hard-working lad who dreamed of giving his family a better life.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza was highly emotional while narrating the unfortunate incident to more than 600 people attending the event.

“(This was) done by a group that has no objective but to sow fear and terror in the hearts (of people),” Dureza said.

“It shows the extent of what those who want to create trouble would go just to make their point clear,” he added.

Dureza, however, said the passing of the young man should not dishearten people but instead serve as an inspiration to all.

This was exactly what the 15 remaining PAMANA scholars did: despite the painful loss of their friend, they still proceeded with their trip to Davao City to participate in the Peace Month celebration.

“They did not surrender their ground. They are examples of what every citizen should do,” Dureza said.

“They are the inspiration we should all (emulate). They are the future,” he added.

Dureza said the task of addressing the various peace and security challenges confronting the nation should not be the sole responsibility of government.

“We in government can’t do this alone. We can provide the leadership, we can create a convergence of efforts, but ultimately, the people out there will have to do it,” he said.

In order to bring about this synergy of efforts among stakeholders, Dureza said he seeks guidance from no less than President Duterte who named him Presidential Peace Adviser more than two years ago.

“President Duterte’s first marching order to us at OPAPP when he assumed office was for us to do a peace and development roadmap,” he said.

Dureza said the roadmap would serve as the “nexus” of the Duterte administration’s Peace and Development Agenda.

He noted that the work for peace should not be confined to peace negotiations with the various rebel groups and addressing security issues, saying that is “only half of the job.”

“The other, bigger, more important part is development. We cannot sustain peace if we don’t have development that will improve the lives of people,” Dureza said.

“Conversely, we cannot sustain development even if we provide a lot of assistance. If there is conflict, nothing will happen,” he added.

Dureza emphasized that peace and development “must happen simultaneously” and not take place one after the other.

Moreover, he said the government must not only focus on the signing of peace agreements but, more importantly, look at the triggers of conflict.

“Let us analyze. Why are there a lot of people rebelling against government? Some of them… their children don’t go to school… they are poor. They feel they are looked upon as enemies,” Dureza said.

He noted that most of those who are engaged in armed struggle are not motivated by ideology but by their current economic conditions.

“They feel that their needs are not being attended to, that they have been forgotten,” Dureza said.

He said this is the rationale behind the whole-of-government approach wherein all national government agencies are closely working with each other to provide socio-economic services particularly to residents in remote and underdeveloped areas.

“The whole-of-nation approach of government is that…they (agencies) are all converging together,” Dureza said.

“We have to work together to have sustainable peace and development,” he added. ###

By | October 1st, 2018|News, PAMANA, Peace Month|0 Comments

OPAPP to lead culmination of Peace Consciousness Month in Davao

DAVAO CITY, September 27 – A peace concert, the unveiling of a peace quilt, and a motorcade are just some of the activities lined for the celebration to culminate the month-long observance of the National Peace Consciousness Month in this city on Friday.

The Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the government agency tasked to lead the peace month celebration, along with the Mindanao Peace Council and other various groups, will spearhead the culmination event at Rizal Park, located right at the heart of this city.

Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza said the event is part of the government’s effort to sustain peace initiatives throughout the country.

“We must focus on our common goal, and that is to help create an enabling environment where sustainable peace and genuine development can take root. To do this, we must set aside our personal agenda and work for the common good. Difficult as it may seem, we can achieve this – peace by piece,” he said.

A motorcade will kick-off the culmination event at 2:00 PM. It will start at Magsaysay Park and will make its way along the main thoroughfares of the city to drum up the peace campaign onto Rizal Park.

Dureza will lead the ceremony by presenting the “State of Peace Process” under the Duterte administration.

Among the highlights of the event is the unveiling of the “People’s Aspiration for Peace.” It is a peace quilt made of various painted canvases stitched together to form a huge work of peace art. Each quilt was collected throughout the country, painted by various sectors, including victims of the armed conflict in Marawi City.

Participants are also expected to take a “Pledge for Peace” that will be led by Peace Ambassador Farahnaz Ali Ghodsinia, who is currently president of the 10th National Youth Parliament, the biggest parliamentary organization for youth in the Philippines.

Wrapping up the event is the Huni sa Kalinaw (Peace Concert) with the participation of various artists in Davao City.

OPAPP has been leading the National Peace Consciousness Month since 2004 by virtue of Proclamation No. 675, declaring the month of September as Peace Month.

The objective of the month-long celebration is to instill greater consciousness and understanding among the Filipino people on the comprehensive peace process.

It also aims to sustain institutional and popular support for the building of a culture of peace in the country.

This year’s theme is “Mithiing Kapayapaan, Sama-samang Isakatuparan,” with the carrier tagline “Peace Na Tayo.” ###

By | September 27th, 2018|News, Peace Month|0 Comments

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

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

OPAPP gears for youth participation in peacebuilding

PASAY CITY, September 13, 2018 – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) today presented the roadmap for the crafting of the National Action Plan for Youth, Peace, and Security (NAPYPS) during the first day of the National Youth Peace Table Summit being held in this city.

In  his message, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza expressed pride in the peace initiatives of the 80 young participants, saying these will be integrated in the promotion and institutionalization of peace.

“We are hoping that this group of yours will become a nucleus of what could be a very capacitated group that could eventually already establish your own peace tables in your communities. Your work now is just really to share the skills, the capacity, and invite the support that you need,” Dureza said.

“That is the reason we provide whatever support that is needed in your big work ahead,” he added.

The upcoming NAPYPS is in response to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 which recognizes the youth’s efforts in peacebuilding and provides a set of guidelines upon which policies and programs will be developed by member states, the UN, and civil society.

The NAPYPS will be based on the OPAPP Youth Peace Table’s (YPT) series of nationwide consultations with different youth organizations. It will support the Filipino youth’s positive contribution to the peace process and conflict-resolution initiatives.

Since 2017, OPAPP has been partnering with young leaders from various regions involved in peacebuilding to gather their recommendations and insights in the drafting of the youth peace agenda.

The partnership is also aimed at deepening the youth leaders’ appreciation of peace education and sowing the seeds for a new roster of peace leaders.

The three-day National Youth Peace Table Summit runs from September 13 to 15 and is anchored on the 2018 National Peace Consciousness Month’s theme “Mithing Kapayapaan, Sama-samang Isakatuparan – Peace Na Tayo!”

OPAPP Conflict Prevention and Management Director Ferdinand Jovita said the event is “not just a commemoration” but a challenge to the youth on how they will apply the youth programs in their lives.

“A document is just a manifestation of what we have, but the real thing is how these formulated pillars will be lived by the youth of the Philippines,” he said.

OPAPP’s YPT is a partnership with the United Nations Development Program, together with the National Youth Commission, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TBPBM), Miriam College’s Center for Peace Education, Generation Peace, and Peace Tech.

###

By | September 13th, 2018|News, Peace Month, Peoples' Peace Tables|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
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