More than 30 peacebuilding leaders from all over the country met to compare notes on our field experiences as we face the realities of Martial Law in Mindanao, the Marawi Crisis, Human Rights under Duterte, and the increasing number of killings related with the War on Drugs.
We listed our fears and hopes from the field. It was so inspiring that we have three times the number of pages on ‘hope list’ than ‘fear list.’ The energies of peace transcend the energies of unpeace.
Here were the highights of this conference:
- A high ranking official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave us a briefing on Martial Law Implementation in Eastern Mindanao and made a presentation of the military’s perspective on peacekeeping.
- A lawyer from the Commission on Human Rights presented their field assessment on the impact of Martial Law among civilians, especially among the war evacuees from Marawi.
- A war evacuee from the Marawi armed clashes shared the stories of the Maranao people who have been devastated by both the attack of the Maute-ISIS Group and the AFP air strikes.
- A professor of anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University shared his reflections as a former detainee of Martial Law during the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. in the 1970s and 80s and how the peace advocacy networks today may respond appropriately.
- A Muslim woman from the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy shared her analysis on how peace advocates can help in the counter-narrative efforts against the violent extremists’ narratives — through creative information and communications strategies.
- The chair of the Peace Implementing Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who is also a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission updated us on the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF. He also shared his views on the Marawi Crisis. Inspite of the Marawi Crisis, the MILF, according to him, will still pursue the Peace Process and will continue partnership with the GPH in implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) through the enabling law called the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
- The chair of Indigenous Peoples’ Peace Panel, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, shared his panel’s journey in guarding the interests of the Indigenous Peoples in the ongoing peace processes between the various armed groups or political fronts, and the Government of the Philippines (GPH).
- Finally, Secretary Jess Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, responded to our questions, comments, and suggestions. It was an informal discussion, heart-to-heart, almost no time limit, but we were able to submit our manifestos and proposals.
Based on what we’ve heard, we were able to work together towards forging synergies.