Marcos admin determined to complete all signed peace pacts

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 22, 2023, 11:57 am

MANILA – The Marcos administration is determined to build on the gains of the comprehensive Philippine peace process by sustaining its momentum and pushing forward with the implementation of all signed peace agreements.

This was emphasized by acting Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Isidro Purisima to participants of the Mindanao Development Forum 2023 spearheaded by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) on May 18.

In a statement Sunday, Purisima stressed that peace and development “must always go hand in hand” and should be pursued with the “same level of intensity and vigor" in his talk to representatives of national line agencies, official development assistance (ODA) community and diplomatic corps.

He noted that the dividends of peace are now being felt across the island-region, as evidenced by the decreasing poverty rates in the Bangsamoro and the decision of former rebels to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law, among others.

“This is the reason why the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) is employing cross-cutting strategies to implement an integrated, transparent, people-centered, and human rights-based peace and security policy,” Purisima said.

He also added that all of OPAPRU’s peacebuilding interventions, particularly in conflict-vulnerable and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, are dovetailed to the current administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2023 – 2028.

In the implementation of the Bangsamoro peace process, he said the agency is focused on ensuring that former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants are able to successfully reintegrate into mainstream society.

“The meaningful transformation of combatants, their families and communities, lies in its community-driven approach,” Purisima said.

He also added that “all members of the community, particularly local government units and residents are part of the peacebuilding process.”

Under the normalization track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the third phase of decommissioning of MILF members will resume this year, as decommissioned combatants and their families are now being provided with socioeconomic assistance.

Purisima said OPAPRU, through the Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities is also transforming six government-acknowledged MILF camps and 33 core barangays in the region into zones of peace and development.

To promote healing and reconciliation in the Bangsamoro, he said the OPAPRU is also focused on completing the national government’s remaining commitments under the Final Peace Agreement it had signed with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He said the agency is set to roll out a transformation program for MNLF members and their families this year, which aims to capacitate them to become peaceful and productive members of society and actively involve them in the region’s socioeconomic development.

“With the reunification of the MILF and MNLF under the Marcos Administration’s banner of unity, we are confident that we shall continue to achieve more milestones under the Bangsamoro peace process,” Purisima said.

In line with its efforts to fulfill the commitments it had made under peace agreements, he said the OPAPRU is also implementing a similar Transformation Program for KAPATIRAN and Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera People’s Liberation Army members.

Under the CAB’s political track, Purisima said the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization has been reconvened under the Marcos administration to coordinate and mobilize the resources of the national government to effectively implement the Normalization Program.

He also reported that the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the National Amnesty Commission (NAC), which is under the leadership of its chairperson, lawyer Leah Tanodra-Armamento, are now being reviewed by the Office of the President.

“Once the NAC’s IRR is finalized, it can already carry out its mandate of accepting and processing the amnesty applications of former (FRs) rebels through the Local Amnesty Board, and determine their eligibility under Proclamation Nos. 1090 and 1091,” Purisima pointed out. (PNA)