OPAPP Sec. Dureza, PNP Chief Bato urge police officers to coordinate with ceasefire mechanisms

Sec. Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa have urged police officers to coordinate with the ceasefire mechanisms when they conduct law enforcement operations in conflict-affected areas in the Bangsamoro, an online report by Mindanews said on April 27.

During a Forum on GPH-MILF Peace Process in Davao City on April 26, both leaders said that coordination is a way to uphold and ensure the primacy of the peace process.

In the same forum Dureza urged top police officials from the conflict areas in the Bangsamoro and neighboring regions to always remember “the bigger goal” which is to “build peace in the land”.

 “Yes we have operational targets, but hopefully we don’t run roughshod over the gains we have already achieved in the peace process,” he said.

Gen Bato on his part said, “Consult, consult, seek advice, seek advice. In case of doubt, you ask questions. Even if coordination will affect the success of the law enforcement operations (LEO) what is important is that we will not be blamed in the end.

Dureza said the forum, initiated by the PNP and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was proposed by GPH Peace Implementitng Panel Chair Irene Santiago “to re-emphasize that as we engage the bad guys on the ground, there is a bigger higher consideration which is seeing to it that our engagement with those on the ground especially in the community level is the one given importance and priority.”

 “I wanted an institutional response so that we don’t have a micro or macro Mamasapano again,” Santiago told MindaNews.

A major lesson in non-coordination was the Mamasapano Tragedy of January 25, 2015 when the PNP’s Special Action Forces (SAF) conducted a LEO in Mamasapano without coordinating with the ceasefire mechanisms or the Army in the area and left 66 persons dead, 44 of them from the SAF, 17 from the MILF and five civilians.

According to the Mindanews report, Santiago gave updates on the GPH-MILF peace process, Brig. Gen. Earl Baliao, chair of the GPH-CCCH presented an overview of the CCCH mechanism while Police Chief Supt. Pierre Bucsit, GPH-AHJAG chair, talked about the AHJAg mechanism.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Chief,  Brig. Gen. Ariel dela Vega Commander of the 6th Infantry Division, and Director Carlos Sol of the Combined Secretariat for GPH CCCH and AHJAG shared their experiences on the benefits of coordination.

Galvez, a member and later chief of the government peace panel’s CCCH before he became 6th Infantry Division chief and eventually the WestMinCom chief, also stressed the need for soldiers and the police to understand the historical and cultural contexts of the conflict.