OPAPP is yet to submit proposed EO on transitional justice commission

As of April 28, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is still in the process of getting other agencies in government to look into its draft Executive Order on the creation of the National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission on the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) before its submission to the Office of the President, Mindanews reported.

OPAPP Sec. Jess Durza told Mindanews, the most read and popular online publication, “Things has to go through the process. There was already a drafted EO for the Commission but you know government, it has to go through the process. It’s not as simple as saying the President will sign immediately then it’s done. You have to merge and mesh gears with all agencies of government”.

Dureza’s statement was a response to Mindanews query why it has taken so long for the government to set up the commission that would have helped President Rodrigo Duterte address the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro as he has repeatedly promised.

Dureza told MindaNews that transitional justice work provides for quasi-judicial bodies to be in place. “There is a need for some wrongdoings done during the time of conflict that there must be an acknowledgment of responsibility and sometimes in the other experiences in the other parts of the world like Colombia where I studied a little bit what they did, it may not be a traditional penal system that will be applied but there must be a way of acknowledging of guilt and responsibility by those who have committed certain atrocities. if you may call it, during the time of conflict. You have to exorcise these”.

Some of those who committed atrocities are still alive, MindaNews said, to which Dureza replied: “Many of them are alive, not only some. Many are alive.”

As recommended by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), the NTJRCB shall be composed of seven members appointed by the President, five of whom are voting members — the Chairperson and the four Commissioners,?who are responsible for convening the Sub-Commissions – while two representatives of Bangsamoro civil society “are members of the NTJCRB with a status of ex officio, non-voting members.”

As proposed, the NTJRC shall operate for six years “with the possibility of extending its mandate for another three years” and shall have four sub-commissions:  Historical Memory; Against Impunity, for the Promotion of Accountability, and Rule of Law; Land Dispossession; and Healing and Reconciliation.

The TJRC was an independent body set up by the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 “to undertake a study and to make recommendations with a view to promoting healing and reconciliation among the different communities affected by the conflict in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.”

A TJRC report submitted to GPH-MILF Peace Implementing Panels concluded that the Bangsamoro narrative of historical injustice is “based on an experience of grievances that extends over generations” and is a result of three interlocking phenomena – violence, impunity, and neglect- which in turn are rooted in the imposition “by force” of a monolithic Filipino identity and Philippine State “on multiple ethnic groups in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago that saw themselves as already pre-existing nations and nation-states.”

In the said TJRC report, historical injustice across generations was cited “particularly with respect to land dispossession and its adverse effects upon their welfare as a community as well as their experience of widespread and serious human rights violations”.