Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III
Bello concurrently holds the Labor Secretary portfolio. Born in Cagayan and raised in Isabela, he migrated to Davao City where he worked as a human rights lawyer during the height of Martial Law. He served under four Philippine presidents in various capacities: Justice Secretary (1990-1992), Solicitor General (1996-1998), Presidential Adviser for New Government Centers (2007-2008), Secretary to the Cabinet (2008-2010), President and Chief Executive Officer of PNOC Development and Management Corporation (2004-2005), and General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of Philippine Reclamation Authority (2006). He was a party-list representative of Una ang Barangay, Ating Paunlarin (1-BAP) during the 16th Congress (2013-2016).
Among his stint in public service, Bello is best remembered as the government chief negotiator with the talks with Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) during the terms of Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In 1998, his panel and the NDF signed the first substantive agreement—the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
Former Secretary Hernani Braganza
Braganza has been part of the peace negotiating panels with the CPP/NPA/NDF under the Ramos and Arroyo administrations. In 2014, he met key officials of CPP and NPA in Surigao del Sur to facilitate the government’s intention to resume the formal peace talks and the release of police officers who was held in captive by the NPA. He served in numerous posts in government—both elected and appointive—in local and national levels. He represented the first district of Pangasinan during the 10th Congress (1995-1998) and was elected as mayor of his hometown Alaminos, Pangasinan from 2004 to 2012. He was also named as Secretary to the Cabinet (2001-2003), Press Secretary (2003), Cabinet Officer for Development of Ilocos region (2002-2004), and Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs (2003-2004).
Former Commissioner Rene Sarmiento
Similar to Bello and Braganza, Sarmiento has also been part of the two peace negotiating panels on the CPP/NPA/NDF talks. He eventually became the vice chairman of the panel in 1996. He was also named to head the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in 2006, prior to his appointment as commissioner of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Born in Catanduanes, Sarmiento is a respected legal practitioner in the country. He was nominated twice for a post in the Supreme Court—first as associate justice in 2010 and as chief justice in 2012. He was part of the 1986 Constitutional Convention which drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad
Librado-Trinidad is a known human rights lawyer and a women’s rights activist in Davao City. Currently, she serves as Barangay Chair of one of the largest barangays in Davao City, Matina Crossing. She was city councilor from 2001 to 2010. She chaired the Sangguniang Panglunsod’s committee on women and children and authored ordinances on the establishment of city’s gender and development office, women’s reproductive health clinic, and overseas Filipino workers center. She also advocated for upholding the rights and welfare of the children, particularly those who are in conflict-affected areas. She previously worked in the Public Attorney’s Office and in a non-governmental organization that provides legal aid to abused women and children.
Atty. Antonio Biñas Arellano
Having worked for the Department of Justice for 23 years, Arellano started as a State Prosecutor II back in 1991 and was appointed as the Regional State Prosecutor (RSP) of Northern Mindanao in 1998, RSP of Central Visayas in 2004, and the RSP of Davao Region from 2007 until he retired in 2015. Prior to working for the government, Arellano had already advocated for justice and human rights, helping underprivileged people in handling human rights cases, especially during the Marcos years. He is a member and an officer of different lawyer groups with which he shares his advocacy. He is known for his integrity, legal competence, and skills in management, organization, and institution building. Arellano became a Datu Bago Awardee in 2011, the highest award given by the city to its constituents, for his significant contribution to the growth and development of Davao City.