Presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza asked the leaders from different indigenous peoples (IP) groups in the province to come up with an advisory council, which will aid the peace process with different rebel groups in tackling various IP concerns.
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“You understand your situations the best; therefore, you are also the ones who can suggest the best solutions. But for this to happen, you also need to come together as one,” Dureza emphasized in Bisaya during an IP peace table conversation on Tuesday, January 3, in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
The advisory council will provide voices and assure key roles for the so-called “national minorities” in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and the implementation of Bangsamoro agreements with the Moro fronts.
Earlier, Dureza underscored that creation of an IP advisory council is a guarantee for a more inclusive and transparent peace process under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
“We cannot solve your problems for you because we do not know what your problems are. That is why there is a need for you to sit down and discuss them and the possible solutions.”
“We cannot promise to deliver all the needs you have mentioned, but what we can promise is that we will present your concerns during the negotiations,” the peace adviser underscored.
Dureza also reminded the leaders that they can start working on their concerns even prior to a final peace agreement.
“We must not solely rely on the peace agreements. If we can act now for the betterment of your welfare, we can do so and not wait anymore for the signing of peace pacts,” he pointed out.
The meeting with the IP leaders is part of the continuing consultation process of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process with the “bigger peace tables” to discuss their concerns and participation in the peace process.
“The negotiating table is a smaller table and only involves the government and the rebel groups. The ‘bigger peace table’ is the general public, which will be affected by the issues tackled in the smaller table. It is, therefore, important to listen to the bigger table,” Dureza explained to the leaders.
As a continuing engagement, there are upcoming peacebuilding conversations with different stakeholders in Surigao del Norte and Compostela Valley on January 12, Thursday.
Dureza also assured the indigenous groups of their representative in the new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which will draft the enabling law for the implementation of all Bangsamoro peace deals and other pertinent measures including the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.
Government Implementing Panel Chair for the Bangsamoro Peace Accords Irene Santiago was also present in the said peacebuilding conversation with IP groups. Aside from being in the event, OPAPP Undersecretaries Diosita Andot and Ronald Flores and Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso also joined Dureza in visiting the municipalities of Alamada, Midsayap, and Carmen, where the peace adviser led the inauguration of a 42-kilometer road project under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program, the government’s peace and development program, and the distribution of relief goods for the communities affected by two explosion incidents in Midsayap and Aleosan on 24 and 28 December 2016 respectively.
Source: Philippine Information Agency