Deles optimistic on peace deals by Aquino’s midterm PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 16:33

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles has said the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) still poses many challenges and issues. However, she expressed optimism that a settlement will be forged before President Aquino’s midterm,”so that the remaining term can be solely devoted for implementation.”

Deles made the statements before participants of the third Silsilah Summer Program on the government’s position, plans, difficulties and hope for the peace process in Mindanao held at the Oasis of Dialogue Training center in Harmony Village, Pitogo, Sinunuc this city last May 25.

Secretary Deles gave a comprehensive presentation based on the proposed new Philippine Development Plan covering the period 2011 to 2016.  A chapter in the Plan covering peace and security is being put together by her Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

She said the negotiations with the MILF, National Democratic Front as well as other smaller insurgent groups will require that no shortcuts will be made just for the expediency of closing peace deals.  We want to be sure that all and any points in the agreements are implementable and will be implemented, she stressed. 

She criticized the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation for leaving loose some provisions, such as security concerns.  How is it, she rhetorically asked, that until now many MNLF rebels continue to reside in their base camps wearing battle uniforms?  What kind of a peace agreement is that? she wondered.

She disclosed that the government’s peace plan includes a socio-economic development program for identified “affected” villages numbering over 3,000 barangays in the country.  The program will commence implementation this year.

She appealed to civil society groups in the country to help the government implement the rebel-targeted human security assistance programs, especially in the propagation of a culture of peace and peace education, gender empowerment, livelihood and capacity-building.  She expressed some disappointment with the slow response of civil society so far in engaging with the government in its various peace efforts.

In her presentation, Deles explained the government’s specific strategies and plans of action in order for the government to “win the peace, and bring all armed conflict to a permanent and peaceful closure.”

She said that President Noynoy Aquino has a plan for Mindanao. She emphasized Pnoy’s speech last year at the Mandarin Hotel on achieving national stability and security, including the government’s goal in securing the safety and well-being of Filipinos.

She also said the government plans to negotiate political settlement of armed conflicts, and “effectively address” the causes of armed conflict and other issues that affect the peace process.

While we want to speed up the peace process in the country, the secretary pointed out how necessary it is to avoid short-cuts.

“We should reach a common understanding in less ambiguous terms, ask the hard questions, and insulate substantive agenda, “ Deles said. “And in this whole process, we should balance transparency and confidentiality – that is also one of the challenges in this endeavor.”

That same day, two resource speakers of the Silsillah Dialogue Institute’s Special Course, the third of the Silsilah Summer Program from May 22-28, gave talks on the subtheme of  “What the indigenous people and the Muslims wish to happen in Mindanao in the light of history, conflict and the peace process.”

The two speakers were Ismael Abubakar, former Congressman of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and former ARMM Regional Legislative Assemblyman and Rudy Buhay Rodil, former member of government peace panel and Mindanao State University professor.

The special course, participated in by peace advocates, educators, youth, NGO representatives and other stakeholders both Muslims and non-Muslims in Mindanao, has for its theme “The Mindanao Conflict: Multiple Perspective of the Problem and the Need for A Common Articulation of the Solution.”
Abubakar lectured on “Effective Governance and Leadership.” He said Filipino Muslims continue to search for good leaders with good intentions to govern.  “Peace is paramount to everything. The best thing to do is to live in harmony, there is nothing to quarrel. To live in harmony with diverse culture, religion and strengthen the harmony to the entire nation”, Abubakar also said.

Rodil said it is the birthright of all Moros to identify themselves and be accepted as a Bangsamoro nation while retaining their Filipino citizenship.

“The right to self-determination is the right of peoples everywhere to freely determine their political status, and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. For this right to be fully effective, the realization of the political, economic, social and cultural sovereignty of peoples is vital. Self determination is a continuing process where people continue to make choices to achieve their security and to fulfill their human needs”, Rodil said. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga