Philippines Peace Processes seek to address Historical Rights, Injustices

DAVAO CITY – The new adviser on the peace process former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the renamed Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU), and Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso, member of the government Peace Implementing Panel for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace accord and co-chair of the Joint Normalization Committee spokes on Philippines peace processes along with Professor Rufa Guiam, and Irene Santiago in “Wining the Peace” multi-stakeholders dialogue held recently in Davao City.  

The multi-stakeholders dialogue was organized by the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) under the auspices of the Office of the University President, in coordination with the Madaris Volunteer Program and the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC). 

This policy dialogue sought to shed light on the Philippine peace process discussing both the status of the political transition in the Bangsamoro and updates on the terminated GRP-NDFP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines-National Democratic Front Philippines) peace talks including the much-debated Executive Order No. 70 (Institutionalizing the Whole-of-nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of a National Peace Framework). 

Sec. Galvez said that Executive Order No. 70 was essentially a shift of government’s efforts in addressing the communist-led insurgency through localized peace efforts. 

Some participant in the forum clarified what they consider a potentially divisive policy, EO NO. 07 that needed the buy-in and participation of all stakeholders in the peace process in its crafting and implementation. 

Said dialogue likewise highlighted the concerns and views of the Indigenous Peoples leaders particularly in Mindanao on how the E.O. 70 will affect the past peace agreements and contribute to the escalation of armed hostilities in their ancestral domains resulting to more internally displaced Lumads. 

Sec. Galvez contended that the government is currently conducting consultations so that all agreements will be in the purview of the constitution, thereby scrapping back-channel agreements that did not go through a constitutional process. 

ASec. Hermoso, on the Normalization deal of the government with the MILF combatants, said that there is economic package assistance for the decommissioned armed forces of MILF and their families. 

The 3-year program for decommissioned combatants includes social protection, capacity development, livelihood deployment assistance, housing assistance, and assistance to DC families or beneficiaries for 2 years. 

In the first phase of decommissioning, there are 145 MILF combatants and 75 high-powered fire arms and crew-served weapons of MILF was turned-over to Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) in a symbolic decommissioning program on June 16, 2015 at Crossing Simuay, Old Maguindanao Provincial Capitol, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

After the establishment of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), a Muslim autonomous government led and ran by the MILF for at least 3 Years before the regular 2022 elections, about 30% or 12,000 combatants are to be decommissioned this year for the phase 2 program of decommissioning. 

Another for the phase 3, 35% or 14,000 of combatants is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020, and another 5% or equivalent to 14,000 combatants are to be decommissioned in 2021-2022, the signing of the exit agreement is set in the phase 4 of decommissioning program.

It is expected that 30,000 to 40,000 combatants of MILF will go to the process of decommissioning.

The remaining decommissioning program under the Normalization aspect of the peace process, however, will be observed if the Philippine government will also comply to help the Moro Government in the disbandment of PAGs, elimination of UXOs and Landmines, redeployment of government forces back to their camps, to work for the program on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation, implement the socio-economic assistance, and the Law and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro though Policing, among others.

To galvanize the Normalization for the Bangsamoro, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed EO No. 79 on April 24 this year to have full implementation of the Normalization track, particularly its various mechanisms and components that have initially been established on the ground.  

Sec. Galvez said that by affixing his signature to EO 79, the Chief Executive is sending a strong message that his administration is determined to sustain the gains and push forward the Bangsamoro peace process to its successful conclusion. 

“This is the moment we have been waiting for. It is another testament of the President’s firm commitment to fulfill all signed agreements with the various Moro fronts and finally bring genuine and enduring peace to the Bangsamoro,” Galvez said.

Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the IID committed to consolidating the outputs of the forum and workshops for participants to share them with relevant actors and agencies including government, non-state actors, civil society and their respective networks for further discussions, analysis, and action.