Manila-based Peace Institute convenes Conference on Waging Peace thru Transitional Justice and Human Rights


Quezon City—The Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI) and Waging Peace Philippines convened a Conference on Waging Peace thru Transitional Justice and Human Rights participated by human rights groups and peace partners from Mindanao, Visayas and the host National Capital Region held at Robbinsdale Residences, Quezon City on January 24-25.

There are two main issues presented in the conference, these were “Working together for Autonomy, Justice and Peace in the Bangsamoro”, and “Transitional Justice, Human Rights, and the GRP-NDFP Peace Process”. The two major agenda have its specific sub-peace topic through a ‘peace table’ on which each table has discussed by the participants and came up with plans and  concrete recommendations for the ways forward. 

On Tuesday session, Ms. Karen Tañada of the GZOPI presented the last years’ development of peace process between the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This according to her is to track the previous gains of the peace process. “Yan lamang po ang aking presentasyon at alam kopo na marami pang maidagdag ang ating mga GPH at MILF Implementing Peace Panels”, Tanada said in vernacular.

Irene “Inday” Santiago, Chair of the GPH Implementing Panel said that there are two major task of the Implementing Panel, “Ang trabaho talaga ng Implementing Panel ay dalawa, one track is Political Legislative and the second track is Normalization”, she said.

In the political legislative she explained that this is to pass the enabling law.   “I hope the BTC could submit the draft [Bangsamoro Law] by July. 

Inday also said that the participation of CSOs in the formation of peace tables is deemed important.

On the MILF side, Abdullah Camlian was requested by the MILF Implementing Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal to present and gave update on the status of peace process. Camlian, a member of the MILF Implementing Peace Panel asked first a question on “How to Solve the Bangsamoro Problem?”

He said that this problem involves a wide variety of social, cultural, economic and political issues and concerns. Among them are ancestral domain, displaced and landless Bangsamoro, destruction of properties and war victims, human rights issues, social and cultural discrimination, corruption of the mind and the moral fiber, economic inequities and widespread poverty, exploitation of natural resources, and agrarian-related concerns.

Included in his presentation was the question on “What are the other issues and concerns that are not included in the list?” He said these are the ‘Establishment of a system of life; and Governance’. 

The commentaries and responses were made by selected CSO leaders. These include CBCS Chairman Guiamel Alim, Romeo Saliga of the Katawhan Lumad Council and from the Women’s Organization Movement of the Bangsamoro (WOMB) chaired by Ruby Andong.

Alim pointed out the need to fast track the process. Saliga said that if passing the Basic law is delayed it could fuel more problems. 

The WOMB, on the other hand, reiterated their positions to the Bangsamoro Peace Process:

“We call for the immediate Implementation of the CAB and other peace agreements with the Moro Fronts”;

“We strongly support the passage of a Bangsamoro Enabling Law compliant to CAB and acceptable to people in the Bangsamoro”;

“We call for a convergence of different tracks in relation to the passage of a law that will create/strengthen a Bangsamoro political entity”; 

“We are not against the move for federalism and the amendment of the Philippine Constitution, insofar as it will pave the way for the implementation of the CAB and other signed peace agreements thru a Bangsamoro Enabling Law should come first before federalism since this is a product of a long process of negotiations and BM people especially our BM youth are now starting to lose hope, thus, they are now easily being recruited by extremist groups” it added; and

“We strongly support federalism if and only CAB inclusion is assured. But since we are not assured of it because the amendments will be done through a constituent assembly with the same congressmen sitting in that assembly then this is why we have to push for the implementation of the CAB thru a BEL.”

Meanwhile, Atty. Raisa Jajurie, of the Bangsamoro Study Group and Mags Maglana of the Independent Working Group on Transitional Justice-Dealing with the Past discussed the Development of TJRC proposals.

Highlighted in the second day session was the workshop discussion on the GRP-NDFP peace process. 

Sharing of actions, painful story from the victims of HRVs were observed.  The responses for this session shared by Raymond Palatino of the Pilgrims for Peace, Belle Garcia-Hernandez of Tulay Kalinaw Mindanao; Analiza Ugay and Magdalena Suhat from the Indigenous People; and Robert Frrancis Garcia of the Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice.

Commission on Human Rights Chair Jose Luis Gascon was also present on the 2nd day. He was delighted upon hearing from peace partners that they will continue working for peace, justice, human rights protection and among other.

Aside from the contributions of participants during the program, it is noted that peace donors from European Union, Norwegian Embassy, the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) and the UNDP are equally important to the attainment of the program’s goal.