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The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID), together with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), organized a roundtable discussion on Developing a Post-MoA Peace and Security Agenda in Mindanao, held at the National Defense College of the Philippines last November 26, 2008.
Various members of Mindanao civil society questioned the effectiveness of the new DDR (disarmament, demobilization, reintegration) framework that the Philippine government has shifted to in its dealings with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), stressing that previous negotiations with the armed group have been successful in reducing conflict in the region before the outbreak of violence following the failure to sign the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) in August. The MoA-AD has since October been declared with finality by the Supreme Court as “unconstitutional”, and ultimately junked.
The DDR framework, according to Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) assistant secretary for Peace Making and Peace Keeping Atty. Camilo Montesa, will seek a “…balance between constitutionality and public sentiment” in its future dealings with the MILF. He further stressed that the DDR is the overall framework and goal, and not the immediate agenda item of the government.
However, Mindanao civil society groups continue to point out that a DDR policy cannot be achieved without first reaching a final peace agreement with the MILF, stating that (the DDR) is usually the final agenda item in peace talks.
A renewed call for upholding the ceasefire in the region, as well as renewed calls for peace was also the subject of discussion, putting into the spotlight the military “punitive action” being done by government forces in Mindanao. Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief PDir Gen. Jesus Versoza, who was one of the resource persons in the gathering, reiterated that the PNP are advocates of peace.
The discussion was also attended by other experts from the security sector, which included Department of National Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, BGen. Victor Felix from the Philippine Army, as well as several members from indigenous peoples (IPs) and civil society groups heavily involved in the peace process, notably Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga from the Institute for Bangsamoro Studies, former Senator Santanina Rasul, Amina Rasul of PCID, Rep. Gerry Salapuddin, Atty. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Fr. Archie Intengan, to name a few.
The government has recently announced a restart in the peace negotiations, naming Department of Foreign Affairs undersecretary Rafael Seguis as the head of the new peace panel.