Pro PolitiCS for Peace 2016 Highlights

Written by Hazelyn Gaudiano, Pro PolitiCS for Peace.

This is the year-end-special presentation of Pro PolitiCS for Peace for the year 2016, which recounts the one full year series of major activities, events, and undertakings of the project. This comprises the highlights of all engagements that were organized and facilitated around the much- talked-about and compelling topics such as: peace, Bangsamoro, ARMM politics, autonomy, federalism, and the Mindanao peace process.

In 2016 (as what have been done in 2015), Pro PolitiCS for Peace provided wider arena for harnessing the informed participation of political leaders and local government units (LGUs) in the evolving broader Mindanao peace process. Likewise, it served as bridge connecting the political leaders and key stakeholders with the peace process mechanisms to promote constructive and productive inter-governmental relations in the envisioned Bangsamoro regional government.

The year 2016 opened on the downside for the Mindanao peace process. By the first month of the year, it was already clear to everyone that Congress would not be able to pass the proposed law, before the Aquino Administration would end in June 2016. The Pro PolitiCS project was in the right position to provide the needed sustaining element at that time. The non-passage of the BBL and the looming national, local, and regional elections engendered the need to:

  1. Sustain the political leaders’ support of the CAB.
  2. Pursue with the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) the planning and programming of PPOC orientation and interfacing with the Normalization Bodies.
  3. Pursue the study on the Framework of Local Governance in the ARMM.

The following are highlights of Pro PolitiCS for Peace activities in 2016:

With the change in political leadership, and a new frame for the  political peace roadmap, the project has continued to engage with the political structure of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its adjacent provinces and municipalities through dialogues, capacity-building activities and researches – being consistent with the goal of  shaping the informed and principled participation of political leaders, women leaders, traditional leaders, Muslim religious leaders, and key stakeholders in the broader Mindanao peace process.

Fourteen (14) activities were conducted from January to June 2016. These are the following:

  1. Six (6) multi-stakeholder forums, RTD/dialogue, and orientation-workshops on the BBL and the broader peace process
    1.  One (1) planning session between the Pro PolitiCS project and the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC)
    2. One (1) regional RTD on peace and security in the context of normalization
    3. One (1) national forum on the implication of the non-passage of the BBL to the peace process
    4. Five (5) series of FGDs and technical sessions on the Framework of Local Governance for the Bangsamoro

Role of Women in Peace and Security

The project started the year with the series of forums and consultations facilitated by the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) connecting with the Muslim women leaders from the Mainland (Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur) and Island provinces (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) of ARMM. The women participants came from different sectors of the academe, civil society, peace advocacy groups, youth, security, and the media.

The activity aimed to discuss peace and security issues, identify the opportunities, risks and challenges and to outline course of actions that would help address or mitigate problems on peace and security confronting the Bangsamoro people in the region.

The Role of Women in Peace and Security" held at the Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi last 12 January 2016

Role of MRLs in Peace and Security

The outcome of dialogues and forums strengthened the resolve of the participants to protect the CAB and to work for the sustainability of the broader peace process. A milestone of this activity was the series of dialogues on the BBL and the peace process in the 5 provinces of ARMM that started early in 2016. The Muslim Religious Leaders forwarded a written statement of support of the peace process. They called for the speedy passage in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the undiluted BBL.

Read More: Central mindanao’s mrl’s urge national gov’t leaders to legislate genuine autonomy for bangsamoro

Moving the Peace Process Forward

The growing anxiety over the non-passage of the BBL and the jittery peace and security situation of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, compelled some concerned citizens and CSOs to call for an up-close dialogue between and among the leaders of government agencies and special bodies, leaders of the civil society, AFP officials, and the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) of the GPH-MILF talks.

The CSO-led roundtable discussion jumped off from the clamour that the peace and order environment of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City currently calls for citizens’ contribution to security sector efforts in consideration of the delay in the passage of the BBL, among others. Various incidents including the serious threat of drugs and extremist group are seen to be the causes of escalating criminality over the past months. A participant asserted: “We do not want endless series of discussions on these matters. Concrete policy and actions are needed right now”.

Read More: Lanao del Sur Citizens and Government Special Bodies Articulate Local Security Issues and Concerns Amid the Non-passage of the BBL

Non-passage of the BBL: Implication to peace and security

The current peace process between the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was apportioned a huge setback in late February 2016 with the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). With the BBLs failure to be enacted, experts from the national and regional security sector were invited to discuss its implication to the peace and security in an Experts’ Forum/Workshop: “The Non-Passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law: Implication to Peace and Security” happened last April 2016.

The forum/workshop presented the experts’ assessments on the current peace and security concerns after the non-passage of the BBL. The discussants comprised thirteen (13) key officials from among security departments of the government.  These include the Philippine National Police- Peace Process and Development Office (PNP-PPDO), Department of National Defense (DND), Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), Armed Forces of the Philippines- Peace Process Office (AFP-PPO), GPH-Ad Hoc Joint Action Groups (GPH-AHJAG), GPH- Joint Normalization Committee (GPH-JNC) and other stakeholders coming from the University of the Philippines (UP), and the International Alert.

Read More: Peace and security experts articulated the implications of the non-passage of the bbl to peace and security

Framework of Local Governance in the ARMM

Pro PolitiCS pursued the study “Framework of Local Governance in the ARMM”, as election fever started to heat-up in January 2016. A series of technical sessions and FGDs involved the regional officials, LGUs, women political leaders, traditional leaders and CSOs in in-depth discussion and assessment of local governance in the ARMM.

Likewise, the Pro PolitiCS for Peace Project in collaboration with the House of representatives through its Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) is undertaking a "Case Study on the ARMM: Drawing Lessons for Setting Up Regional Governments Under a Federal System", which aims to build supplemental database for the impending congressional discussions on the proposed shift to the federal system of governance in the Philippines. The package of policy analysis and recommendations is expected to be published in 2017, altogether to serve as basis for the continuing discussions with the LGUs, and thereafter, in the national legislative discussions on Federalism.

Kusog Mindanaw Conference 2016

The IAG thru the Kusog Mindanaw platform organized a conference on Federalism and All-Inclusive Political Platforms for Southern Philippines. The event slated in Partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), and supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), held last November 2016.

Kusog Mindanaw is a platform of dialogue where government, business, NGOs, religious and political leaders and organizations of Mindanao meet with the end in view of strengthening the voice of Mindanao in national policies and programs.  Since 1994, Kusog Mindanaw has consistently advocated issues that Mindanao’s leaders have built a consensus on: equitable share and role in the national budget and government, good governance and Mindanao peace and development

Facilitator’s capacity building on Autonomy, Federalism, and the Mindanao Peace Process

Pro PolitiCS for Peace gathered a pool of speakers and facilitators to help facilitate the conduct of forums and RTDs on the issues of autonomy, federalism, governance, and the Mindanao peace advocacy in a workshop conducted early in September 2016. The activity aimed to understand the peace roadmap, challenges and opportunities, and also, to understand the critical issues in implementing the peace agreements in the current context and how best to communicate these opportunities and challenges to key stakeholders.

The participants were trained as facilitators in the subsequent Provincial Forum Series to provide among the LGUs the critical understanding and informed-support on issues concerning autonomy, federalism, governance, and the Mindanao peace process.

Forum Series on Autonomy, Federalism, and the Mindanao Peace Process

The LGUs of ARMM and local political leaders engaged in dialogues and discussions to understand and build support around the newly defined political peace roadmap of the national administration. Inputs include the critical understanding of the proposed transition to a federal form of government – connecting the local and regional issues of intergovernmental relations, fiscal autonomy, and socio-cultural parameters of governance with the national government.

Entitled: “Forum on Autonomy, Federalism, and the Mindanao Peace Process”,  Series of forums were conducted in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi – Tawi, Zambonga City, and Iligan City from September to December 2016. More than 100 of participants in each venue articulated their ideas and recommendations on the new and renewed political roadmap to Mindanao peace.

Dialogue with the Bangsamoro Diaspora on Federalism, Autonomy and Mindanao Peace Process

A Forum on Federalism, Autonomy, and Mindanao Peace Process with the Bangsamoro Diaspora capped the series of Pro PolitiCS for Peace activities for 2016. The forum was organized to engage the Bangsamoro diaspora on the Duterte administration’s push for a shift to the federal system of government. Facilitated by the project’s implementing partner, Philippine Centre for Islam and Democracy (PCID), the august forum participants include the leaders of the Bangsamoro business association in Greenhills, media, academe, security sector, and political leaders.

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