OVER the past five years, the Duterte Administration has been relentless in pushing forward the comprehensive Philippine peace process and realizing the commitments made by the national government under all signed peace agreements.
This was emphasized by Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. who reported on the major gains achieved by the government in the peace front during the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Forum participated in by member-agencies of the Security, Justice, and Peace Cabinet Cluster held here on Wednesday, July 21.
“Sa gitna po ng maraming hamon na dulot ng pandemya ay tuloy-tuloy ang ating pagsulong sa komprehensibong prosesong pangkapayapaan sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng Six-Point Peace and Development Agenda” Galvez said.
From the highlands of the Cordilleras to the island-provinces of the Bangsamoro region, the government has sustained the gains of peace through a whole-of-society, whole-of-nation approach involving national government agencies, local government units, as well as local and international peace partners.
Bangsamoro: A journey towards self-determination
The implementation of the Political and Normalization tracks of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) took a major leap forward under the Duterte Administration. President Duterte shepherded the passage of Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), giving birth to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which embodies the dreams and aspirations not only of the Moro People but the entire Filipino nation.
Under the Normalization Track, 12,145 former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants, 2,100 firearms and 615 ammunition have undergone the process of decommissioning. These former fighters are now living as peaceful and productive civilians as their camps are being transformed into progressive and resilient communities.
Each of the decommissioned combatants (DCs) have received transitional cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development amounting to PHP 100,000, and were identified as recipients of the Department of Labor and Employment’s Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.
The Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) was also created to harmonize the initiatives of national line agencies in the implementation of the Normalization track. Socioeconomic projects under the Normalization Program include the construction of community-based infrastructure such as irrigation systems spearheaded by the National Irrigation Administration, as well as rural health units with birthing facilities funded by the Department of Health and the Bangsamoro government.
Moreover, the Department of Trade and Industry, through its PRAISE program, turned over a P16.5 million Mechanized Solid Waste Segregation System in Butig, Lanao del Sur. This project aims to create employment and livelihood opportunities for out-of-school youth and DCs.
Meanwhile, 30 units of mobile rice mills were turned over to 1,617 DCs coming from 30 peoples’ organizations and cooperatives.
The collaboration between the national and BARMM governments also got a major boost with the creation of the National Government – Bangsamoro Government Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB).
To assist MILF combatants and their families to successfully make the transition to civilian life, the multi-donor Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF) was also launched.
Continuing the commitment to the 1996 Final Peace Agreement
The Duterte Administration also created two Peace Coordinating Committees in 2019 to engage with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) groups led by Nur Misuari and Muslimin Sema.
The Peace Coordinating Committees serve as a venue for the Philippine government and the MNLF groups to resolve pressing issues between both parties, cooperate in combating terror groups in the region, as well as implement socio-economic programs in MNLF communities.
The participation and representation of MNLF members in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is another major accomplishment of the Duterte administration.
Ten out of the 80 BTA members are MNLF members. Four members and one senior leader have been elected or appointed to key positions in the Parliament and various ministries.
This development is a testament of the inclusiveness of the BOL, which is now creating opportunities for all residents of the Bangsamoro, regardless of religion, tribe or culture.
Localized peace engagement
With the insincerity shown by the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) to achieve just and lasting peace in the country, President Duterte terminated national peace talks with the CTG on November 23, 2017.
However, the government did not close its doors on CTG members who wanted to return to the folds of the law.
By virtue of Executive Order No. 70 signed by President Duterte on December 4, 2018, government agencies implemented a “Whole-of-Nation Approach” (WNA) to end the local communist armed conflict.
National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was created, under which the Regional Task Forces (RTFs) are mandated to implement peace and development projects on the ground.
Under the WNA are 12 clusters or lines of efforts, among which is the Localized Peace Engagement (LPE). LPE is the Duterte Administration’s answer to the communist armed conflict. By directly engaging former rebels (FRs), their families, and their communities through consultation and dialogue, much-needed government programs and services are delivered to them faster and more efficiently.
The LPE cluster is co-chaired by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). Secretary Galvez was also designated as Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Region 3. Under his leadership, all seven provinces in Central Luzon, as well as 14 cities and 116 municipalities declared the CTG as persona non-grata.
A total of 75 provinces, 110 cities, 1,126 municipalities, and 25,520 barangays declared the CTG as persona non-grata. Across the nation, thousands of FRs have returned to the folds of the law, through the government’s Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL).(OPAPP Communications and Public Affairs Department)
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