MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) on Thursday said major milestones in the Bangsamoro peace process have already been achieved in the early months of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s administration.
In a statement, OPAPRU chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Chief Executive demonstrated his resolve to move forward with the Bangsamoro peace process with the appointment of the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
“True to the call for inclusivity, the new composition of the BTA is composed of representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) Misuari and Sema-Jikiri groups, as well as the sons and daughters of top Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders,” Galvez said.
In the run-up to the BTA’s inaugural session, the OPAPRU chief said MILF chairperson Murad Ebrahim and Member of Parliament Thong Jikiri of the Sema-Jikiri group met with MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari in the latter’s home, putting an end to the two Moro fronts’ 46 years of separation.
“During the inauguration of the BTA last Sept. 15, the country witnessed the reunification of all Bangsamoro leaders. This was both historic and a milestone in the Bangsamoro peace process,” Galvez said in a forum held at the Ateneo de Davao University Wednesday.
He added that the President reiterated his call for the BTA to pass the BARMM’s crucial codes which include the Electoral Code, Local Government Code, Revenue Code, and Indigenous Peoples' Code.
Galvez said the passage of these codes will lay the foundations of an inclusive, responsive and people-centered governance in the Bangsamoro and “ensure that the BARMM is well-prepared for their first (regional) elections in 2025.”
Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Laisa Alamia described the BTA inaugural session as a “historic” moment for the Bangsamoro peace process as the MILF and MNLF are now reunited after 46 years of separation.
“That day brought so much light and hope to the Bangsamoro journey to peace. We were so happy as members of the Parliament of the BTA. Everyone was able to witness what happened that day,” Alamia said.
As a testament to the MILF and MNLF’s unity and commitment to work together for the welfare of the Bangsamoro people, she said the BTA no longer has a majority and minority block.
“We don’t have a majority-minority block anymore in the BTA. This is one BTA. I used to be the minority floor leader. But we have decided and agreed upon by the entire BTA that there will be no (majority)-minority block,” Alamia said.
She said that as one BTA, the body “is united and committed to making sure the directives given by the President, by OPAPRU, by the security sector at the national level, and of course, the provisions of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the CAB, and the FAB, will be implemented.”
Mussolini Lidasan, executive director of Al Qalam Institute, said that OPAPRU’s work to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process “requires much focus and concentration, as well as support from all our stakeholders.”
“The call for unity is very promising and President Marcos’ appointment of the new BTA shows his true commitment to continue the gains of peace that the previous administration has started,” Lidasan said.
To sustain the gains of the peace processes with the MILF and MNLF, Galvez said the national government shall carry out a normalization process that aims to bring about the holistic transformation of the former combatants and their organizations.
“(This) entails four levels of interventions – from the provision of basic services, capacitation and productivity, generating corporate business ventures to social healing, reconciliation and unity,” he added.
Galvez said the national government’s peacebuilding efforts in the Bangsamoro are anchored on the OPAPRU expanded mandate and the Marcos Administration’s 5-Point Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Agenda.
The 5-Point Peace, Reconciliation and Peace Agenda includes the following:
- Completion of peace agreements with the MILF and MNLF towards healing and reconciliation in the Bangsamoro;
- Ending of local communist armed conflict by expanding the transformation programs for local conflict peace process;
- Completion and sustainment of the gains of the signed peace agreements with the RPM-P/RPA/ABB AND CBA-CPLA;
- Enhancement of the resilience for peace of communities and vulnerable groups through social healing and peacebuilding approaches in support of the peace processes;
and - Enhancement of the delivery of CSPP-compliant socioeconomic interventions in addressing the key drivers of conflict through convergence and complementation in support of the peace processes.
As part of its efforts to preserve the dividends of peace, Galvez said the OPAPRU has been working closely with its peace partners, particularly the academic community and civil society, to promote the culture of peace throughout the country.
He said the peace agency has partnered with the Ateneo de Davao University and other peace stakeholders to effectively communicate the “Document on Human Fraternity,” which was signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb in 2019.
“OPAPRU aims to promote and integrate the principles of the Human Fraternity Document into the peacebuilding initiatives of various learning institutions and its other peace partners,” Galvez said.
In line with its efforts to revitalize peace education, he said the OPAPRU seeks to institutionalize peace education and advocacy in formal education and informal learning institutions through the proposed issuance of a strengthened executive order (EO).
Galvez said this proposed EO aims to promote the culture of peace, enhance community resilience, and provide a proactive approach to counter the recruitment and mobilization by violent extremist groups, especially among vulnerable communities and individuals.
“The strengthened EO shall provide for the mandatory establishment of peace centers in all public and private higher education institutions that shall plan for the integration of peace education into the formal and non-formal curricula,” he said.
Galvez said this will be carried out through the implementation of alternative learning systems and other peace-related modules, the development of content and other learning materials, and the capacity-building of peace educators, among others.
Before ending his presentation, the peace adviser shared the statement delivered by President Marcos on Sept. 20 during the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“My country’s experiences in building peace and forging new paths of cooperation can enrich the work of the Security Council. Our success in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in the southern Philippines is the centerpiece of these efforts,” the President said. (PNA)