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Protect the country’s future, continue with peace process — Independent peace monitoring body urges
MANILA – The Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the body that monitors the progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, highlighted the need to continue with the peace process especially after the tragedy in Mamasapano, Maguindanao which claimed nearly 70 lives from all sides, including civilians.
“The recent tragic events at Mamasapano have underlined yet again the human costs of conflict, and the TPMT joins in expressing their condolences to the families of all the victims,” TPMT Chair Alistair MacDonald said during a press briefing held for the release of their second annual Public Report on February 13.
“Pending the results of the various investigations now being carried out, it would be premature to comment substantively on these events,” he noted. “But it will be essential to protect the future while providing just remedies for the past – and that future can only prosper in the context of a widespread and lasting peace.”
According to MacDonald, while public attention is focused on the tragedy, the substantial progress made in the peace process for 2014 must not be overlooked. He noted that the report they release should serve to remind the public of this progress.
The TPMT cited the completion of the Normalization Annex in January, the historic signature of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March, the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress in September, and the conduct of extensive Congressional consultations and deliberations on the BBL immediately after its submission as proof of this progress, along with movements in the other dimensions of the peace process.
The latter include the initial progress made in the Normalization track; the setting up of the Joint Normalization Committee, the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, and the Independent Decommissioning Body; preparations for the decommissioning or turnover of MILF firearms; continued work on socio-economic development, through the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program and the preparation of a detailed Bangsamoro Development Plan; and preparations for the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, with the establishment of a Coordinating Committee for the Transition.
Formally established in 2013, the TPMT is tasked to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government. Joining MacDonald, a former European Union ambassador to the Philippines, in the TPMT are Husseyin Oruc of Human Rights and Freedoms Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH); Karen Tanada, executive director of the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI); Rahib Kudto of UNYPAD Philippines; and Steven Rood, country representative of The Asia Foundation.
Continuing commitment to peace
“What struck me is that those calling for all-out war are not the people affected, not the police or military, not the people who live in the area,” MacDonald noted. He said that while it is necessary for the parties to restore trust in the peace process, he remains confident it will continue, and that the parties will be able to find lasting solutions to armed conflict.
Oruc, clarifying that the TPMT is neutral and not part of either the government or the MILF, noted that they “saw sincerity in both sides,” and that “we will continue to hope for peace in Mindanao.”
“Ending decades of violent conflict cannot be accomplished overnight,” MacDonald said, “and the painstaking efforts of all those working for peace deserve to be acknowledged.”
“The best guarantees of success are the continuing commitment to peace of both Parties, at the highest level, the massive engagement of Congress and the public in deliberating on the BBL, and the underlying hopes of the people of Mindanao that their children should be able to grow and prosper in a peaceful and just society,” the TPMT said.
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