April 26, 2019 (11:28 AM)

4 min read


Forum participants and delegates take a photo opportunity with University President Fr. Joel Tabora S.J.

Photo by Ram Manlatican

The conference dubbed as “Winning the Peace: Multistakeholders’ Dialogue on the Peace Process” touched several on-going developments regarding the peace negotiations with armed groups in the island last April 24, 2019 at the Calungsod-San Vitores Jesuit-Lay Collaboration Center, 11th Floor of the Community Center of the First Companions.

The event was graced by Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Asst. Sec. Dickson Hermoso of The Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), formerly known as OPAPP. Peace Adviser to the Davao City Mayor, Irene Santiago, and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Committee (TJRC) convener Prof. Rufa Guiam were also among those who attended to give their insights and opinion on matters concerning peace in Mindanao.

The discourse began with opening remarks from both Galvez and Hermoso which included general updates in key areas and recent milestones on the Normalization Process, a key feature included in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed last March 2014 between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Transitional Justice
Among the topics discussed during the forum was the Transitional Justice, which was another salient feature in the CAB, had four important pillars namely, The Right to Know, The Right to Reparation, The Right to Justice, and the Guarantee and Non-Recurrent of Violence.

Guiam elaborated the “Right to Know” pillar as one of the key matters in helping resolve the current issues here in Mindanao. 

“Everyone needs to know what happened in the past. Take for example the Marawi siege We really need to know first of all the circumstances before during and after. We really want to know the truth because if we don’t know the truth then our future interventions would not be addressing the root of that siege in the Philippines,” shared Guiam during her plenary discussion.

Peace 911
The peace program “Peace 911” was launched last May 17, 2018 by the City Government of Davao to aid the peace and economic situation of the residents of Paquibato District.

Santiago discussed the Local Peace-building topic and that it required building the trust by ending the fear and hunger experienced by the residents via providing food, jobs, and police and military presence in that area. 

“The reason why this is effective especially for the women is because they didn’t need to go far to get food. They could look after their children while preparing for school while also caring for their families,” Santiago added during the forum.

Santiago closed with the news that the “Peace 911” program will now extend to 17 more barangays after its success.

Concerns, insights 
Timuay Santos Unsad of the Timuay Justice Justice Governance relayed the concerns of the displaced Lumad regarding their ancestral lands occupied by the formerly MILF and now-decommissioned combatants.

“Kung may kapayapaan, paano na yung mga taong na-displace. Sabi nga nila biktima kami ng kaguluhan at magiging biktima din kami ng kapayapaan,” added Unsad during talk.

Sultan Hamidullah Atar, the Sultan of Marawi shared his experience about the situation of those affected by the siege in Marawi.

“My main reflection is this Marami sa kanila (civilians) na affected ay hindi taga-ground zero … it broke my heart that they are not part of any programs for the ground zero victims,” explained Atar.

Press Briefing
After the plenary discussion, the speakers proceeded to lunch at the 8th floor Xavier Hall. Sec. Galvez, along with Asec. Hermoso, Prof. Guiam, Santiago.

During the briefing, Galvez answered questions regarding the constitutionality of the peace talks between the government and armed groups.

“Alam nyo lahat ng negotiations alam ng mga panel na lahat na dapat signan nila will be legally binding. For example, yung CAB bago naging law, pinagaralan ng lahat ng lawyers ng government yan… Hindi sya (agreements) pwede iimplement agad kasi it will have to go through scrutiny of the process,” explained Galvez.

The event then moved to its second portion which included Workshop One: ”Key Challenges, Game Changers,” and Workshop Two: “Peoples’ Engagement Roadmaps.” The outputs were then consolidated and discussed among the groups.

Executive director and co-founder of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) Gus Miclat appreciated the event because it was attended by the leaders of different sectors. 

“It was good because a lot of confusion and questions with regards to peace processes were discussed along with the perspective of the government coming from the secretary (Galvez) himself,” shared Miclat. 

The event welcomed prominent leaders from differing sectors in Mindanao, including Rev. Fr. Teresito Soganub of the Marawi Prelature, Timuay Alim Bandara Timuay Justice and Government, Reydan Lacson of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, Indigenous Peoples’ leader Bai Magda among others.

End the silence of the gagged!

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