IP advisory council, reconstituted BTC to ensure inclusivity in peace process — Dureza

The creation of a reconstituted Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and an advisory council for the indigenous people are underway to guarantee that there is a more inclusive and more transparent peace process under the Duterte administration according to Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza.

"We are talking with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front) and the Bangsamoro across peace tables but the problem [is that] there is a bigger table outside," Dureza explained in a forum on indigenous people and the peace process held in the city earlier this week.

"These are people, stakeholders. Hindi member ng CPP-NPA-NDF; hindi member ng MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front); hindi member ng MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front); pero kalahok sila (sa negotiations). Mas malaki ang table na yan at kailangan meron silang inputs in our work today (These are people, stakeholders. They are not members of the CPP-NPA-NDF; they are not members of the MNLF; they are not members of the MILF; but they are a part of the negotiations. They have a bigger table and they should have inputs in our work today)," he added.

The government's peace secretary also pointed out that there is a danger in continuing a track of exclusivity and closed door negotiations. "We therefore have to gauge the public already so we are very transparent in our media, communications work, organizing several tables."

Dureza also maintained that the active participation of the public is essential to ensure that the peace negotiations will culminate in the ending of armed insurgencies and the achievement of a just, sustainable peace across the country.

"[T]he road to peace is not an easy road. It is not a cemented road. It is not an asphalted road. There are humps and bumps along the way, but if you travel with us along the way perhaps we will be there together and reach the destination we want [which is] peace para sa lahat [for everyone]."

IP advisory council to be formed for peace panels

Ethnic groups and tribal leaders will form part of an advisory council that will provide voices of national minorities in guidance on the peace negotiations with the communist rebels and the creation of a Bangsamoro enabling law, according to Dureza.

He pointed out that the ethnic minorities play an important role in ensuring the success of the peace negotiations and that their recommendations are valuable in the implementation of signed peace agreements. "[T]he IPs compose a very important sector in our work. I have already taken that with the President and he approved."

"[T]his will be the first that we will be having what we will call the IP advisory council that will advise the panels -- panel that is handling the BTC, panels handling the CPP-NPA-NDF -- so may inputs sila doon sa mangyayari (they have inputs on what would happen)."

"[M]eron silang opportunity na ipahayag yung gusto nilang maisali dun sa mga batas na yan (They have an opportunity to express their intention to join be included in the law) so we will be creating an IP advisory council that will advise the PAPP and provide inputs to all the panels," he further explained.

"We cannot promise lahat ng sasabihin nila ay mangyayari but at least napapakinggan sila at may mga aksyon na gagawin din (We cannot promise that all of their proposals will be realized but at least they will be heard and that there are actions that can be taken)," Dureza said.

New BTC to work on federalism pilot state in Bangsamoro

The presidential peace process adviser also noted that an executive order on the reconstitution of a more inclusive and more transparent BTC is now awaiting the signature of the president.

"We are now re-crafting, reconstituting the Bangsamoro commission that will craft a new bill that hopefully Congress will also approve to replace the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law)," he said. "[I]nstead of 15 members in the BTC that will work again on a new, proposed bill in Congress, pumayag sila (MILF) to make it inclusive from 15 to 21." Meron tayong additional diyan para sa MNLF, kung sino pa man, IPs at iba pa (Instead of 15 members in the BTC that will work again on a new, proposed bill in Congress, the MILF agreed to make it inclusive from 15 to 21. We have additional members from the MNLF, concerned stakeholders, IPs and more)."

Dureza added that the said commission will be tasked to draft a new enabling law for the implementation of all signed Bangsamoro agreements including the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF.

The BTC was first convened in 2014 through Executive Order No. 120 which gives the body the mandate to: to draft the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro; and to recommend to Congress or the people proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution whenever necessary.

Speaking on the envisioned new enabling law of the 2014 CAB in a press conference last July, Dureza maintained that its passage remained up to Congress. "[The Bangsamoro] have to work out together the convergence of all their interests, of all these groups, and then if Congress will pass it, then they will pass it."

The OPAPP secretary also said that the enabling law can be the pilot for the proposed federalism being espoused by President Duterte. "The enabling law that will be passed coming from the BTC, the Bangsamoro themselves, in convergence, can be also a pilot federal state of the Bangsamoro as we move towards a nationwide federal setup later on."

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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