MANILA, January 7, 2017 (PNA) — Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza has asked leaders of different indigenous peoples (IP) to come up with an advisory council that would aid the peace process with different rebel groups in tackling various IP concerns.
“You understand your situations the best. Therefore, you are also the ones who can suggest the best solutions. But for this to happen, you also need to come together as one,” Dureza said during a recent IP peace table conversation in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
He said the advisory council will provide voices and assure key roles for the so-called “national minorities” in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and the implementation of Bangsamoro agreements with the Moro fronts.
Dureza had earlier said the creation of an IP advisory council guarantees a more inclusive and transparent peace process under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We cannot solve your problems for you because we do not know what your problems are. That is why there is a need for you to sit down and discuss them and the possible solutions,” he said.
“We cannot promise to deliver all the needs you have mentioned, but what we can promise is that we will present your concerns during the negotiations,” he added.
Dureza also reminded the leaders that the work on their concerns can be started even prior to a final peace agreement.
“We must not solely rely on the peace agreements. If we can act now for the betterment of your welfare, we can do so and not wait anymore for the signing of peace pacts,” he said.
The meeting with the IP leaders is part of the continuing consultation process of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process with the “bigger peace tables” to discuss their concerns and participation in the peace process.
“The negotiating table is a smaller table and only involves the government and the rebel groups. The ‘bigger peace table’ is the general public, which will be affected by the issues tackled in the smaller table. It is, therefore, important to listen to the bigger table,” Dureza told the leaders.
As a continuing engagement, there are upcoming peace building conversations with various stakeholders in Surigao del Norte and Compostela Valley on Thursday (January 12).
Dureza also assured the indigenous groups of representation in the new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which will draft the enabling law for the implementation of all Bangsamoro peace deals and other pertinent measures, including the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.
Government Implementing Panel Chair for the Bangsamoro Peace Accords Irene Santiago was also present in the peace building conversation with IP groups.
OPAPP Undersecretaries Diosita Andot and Ronald Flores and Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso also joined Dureza in visiting the municipalities of Alamada, Midsayap, and Carmen, where the peace adviser led the inauguration of a 42-kilometer road project under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program, the government’s peace and development program, and the distribution of relief goods for communities affected by two explosion incidents in Midsayap and Aleosan last December 24 and 28, respectively. (PNA)