The government’s chief peace adviser bared his plan to revitalise the Mindanao Working Group under the Philippines Development Forum (PDF) to complement the peace and development roadmap of the Duterte administration.
“The peace and development roadmap starts from the directive that OPAPP [Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process] should not only be doing peace work—negotiating and signing agreements, engaging those who are on the other side of the table—but it is equally important to improve the lives of the stakeholders,” explained Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza in a briefing on the government’s peace and development roadmap for international partners and donor agencies in Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Ortigas.
The Mindanao Working Group was created together with nine other working groups to form part of the PDF, the primary mechanism of the government for facilitating substantive policy dialogue among stakeholders on the country’s development agenda.
“It did not work before as we envisioned but hopefully we’ll learn from our mistakes in the past as we continue working together again,” the peace adviser added.
In this context, the Mindanao Working Group is envisioned to harmonize development partners’ requirements and approaches in providing assistance to target beneficiaries and communities affected by conflict.
The peace adviser also asked the international organizations to continue their support on government’s peace efforts, particularly on the Bangsamoro peace process that will be moving towards the implementation stage.
“Our foreign partners who helped us in the negotiations stage can continue their support on areas which they perceive they can help a lot. You are all welcome to continue to be our partners—strong partners—in the implementation stage,” he said.
Fast tracking development efforts
The OPAPP secretary also explained to the stakeholders that there is a proposal to amend and expand the mandate of the OPAPP to ensure that development projects in conflict-affected communities are not delayed. “You all know that the Philippine government has very long and stringent procurement policies, and that the OPAPP does not have the mandate to implement development projects.”
“That is why there are proposed amendments that are already with the President that will unclog bottlenecks in development efforts in areas where there is conflict. We want to do this because we cannot make the people wait anymore for the peace dividends that were promised to them,” he continued.
“We will also take a look at the existing mechanisms of procurement to find possible ways of speeding up the process. We would like to hurry in our development work. We cannot make our people become anxious and restless when they do not felt the benefits from the dividends of peace,” he added.
Dureza assured that the support of donor partners in terms of resources will be reciprocated by the Philippine government.
“We want to put our money where the mouth is. We cannot invite our partners if the government is not giving its part to the pot,” he concluded.