‘Conflict transformation, the last phase in peacebuilding, is the hardest process,’ Moro CSO leader says

“Conflict transformation, normally takes place after the signing of peace agreement, assumes the last phase of peacebuilding and is the hardest part,” said Guiamel Alim, Chairman of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society.

“Peace agreement sometimes or most of the time look only at the political side of the conflict but fail to move forward the process of transforming oppressive structures and institution that can hopefully lead to healing and reconciliation in the long run,” the Moro civic leader said.

Alim was speaking in a plenary attended by more than two hundred delegates from the Southeast Asian states during the 5th International Conference on Human Rights, Peace & Conflict in Southeast Asia held at Pasig City on October 15-17, 2018.

“The question is: What should we do about the thousands of serious crimes that have been committed?,” he asked and added “Our choices can be: do nothing, deny the past, give amnesties to the perpetrators, …provide official apology, reform institutions that can hopefully lead to healing and reconciliation in the long terms” he added.

Alim narrated the efforts initiated in the Philippines to address the legacy of the past that includes the ongoing undertaking by the Human Rights Violations Claim Board to compensate victims of Martial Law from the recovered money of Marcos.

The data shows around 11,000 out of more than 70,000 claimants had been able to receive payments, according to the speaker.

“Nevertheless, these initiatives have had yet small or insufficient impact, notably regarding the satisfaction of victims, especially in Mindanao, and in guaranteeing the prevention of the recurrence of violations,” he said.

Alim said among the reasons why initiatives related to transitional justice often viewed ineffective includes: they have mainly not addressed the root causes; they were not implemented as a result of broad and transparent consultations; they promoted isolated measures instead of holistic strategy and they did not contribute to the prevention of revisionist discourse and denial about injustices committed.

He added that studies show that peace violence and human rights abuses not necessarily end in a post-conflict era and even after signing of peace agreements in Mindanao.

 “Peace agreements are not enough. It requires a transformation of the parties, their relationships to each other, and the structural elements that underlie he conflict,” the speaker pointed out.

“Conflict transformation process deals with the past and bring the protagonists into the situation where they can work together, but that can only happen when there is healing and reconciliation and that social justice and institutional reforms are installed to guarantee the non-recurrence of violence,” he explained.

Alim said, “Peace agreements therefore shall embody the mechanism that can lead to addressing the legitimate grievances and injustices that characterized the past relationship,” he added.

He ended his presentation saying “In the Philippines and in the Bangsamoro, the fight to end the violence and building a lasting peace is a work in progress. Conflict transformation dictates the need for inclusive and sustainable human security development program.”