National Network for Social Development
lauds the submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law
After more than a year since the 16th Congress failed to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), it looks like that the GPH-MILF peace table is now moving.
Last Monday, July 17, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) finally handed over the revised draft of the proposed BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte in a ceremony attended by the Chairman of the Commission, the peace panels, and members of the BTC. The said draft seeks to create a new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The document is expected to be submitted by the Office of the President to both the House of Representatives and the Senate anytime soon for review and ratification.
"We are happy that the draft document is finally out. We have been closely monitoring the development in this peace table and we have been worried since it was moving rather slow when the new government assumed office. We recognize the challenges and attempts to make the process more inclusive for all stakeholders. We laud the effort of the BTC to agree on this version and submit it within the timetable. We hope this be acceptable to all parties where protection, promotion, and fulfillment of rights and recognition of fundamental freedoms are given importance”, Yoly Esguerra, the National Coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) said.
Esguerra however said “The next hurdle will be in the halls of the law-making bodies which did not succeed to pass the draft BBL during the 16th congress. We trust that the promise and purported resolve of the President will overpower and transcend the vested interest groups that want this effort to fail”.
CONSECRATE THEM IN THE TRUTH
A Pastoral Exhortation Against Fake News
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
A key dimension of Jesus’ mission was to preach the truth, and in His high priestly prayer, He prayed that His disciples might be consecrated in the truth. We, the Filipino nation, are part of the community of disciples for whom He prayed. At his trial, the question of truth figured prominently. “What is truth?” asked a bewildered Pilate, because he failed to recognize in Jesus, THE TRUTH!
So it is that the Christian cannot be part of falsehood, deceit and lies. A fact is anything that is or that happens. If one man kills another, it cannot but be a fact that the deed was done, and any “alternative fact” that would have it so that no killing was done is simply false, and, when meant to deceive, a lie!
The duty to speak the truth is so elemental a demand of morality and of good social order that it can hardly be reduced to more elementary precepts. It is almost as fundamental as the first principle of all morality: “Do good; avoid evil.” Human life would be impossible in a society where we constantly and habitually deceived each other.
Crucial decisions — personal and social — depend on the accurate grasp of facts. “Alternative facts” and “fake news” engender faulty decisions many times with disastrous long-term consequences to persons and to communities. Sadly, we see this happening today. There are persons who have given themselves to the service of reporting what never happened, concealing what really happened, and distorting what should be presented in a straightforward manner.
"Think of communities, victims in peace nego"
With the resumption of peace talks, the fourth negotiations between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the country’s communist group is set to continue April 1.
A network of civil society organization and rights groups expresses relief and lauds the peace panels of the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for agreeing to get back to table.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) as well emphasizes that while the network "are happy that a light of hope glints as the GRP-NDFP peace table is back on track, both parties this time must also consider prioritizing bilateral ceasefire."
"We are relieved that the wind has changed in favor of just and lasting peace. But the fact that attacks, encounters, and deadly firefights are still happening in communities still keeps us all awake at night," Yoly Esguerra, the national coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) said.
Esguerra also highlighted that they call on both parties to put the victims of the conflict at the center of the negotiation
"The discussion of what needs to be set-out in the future is important, which is why we celebrate that this peace table is back and functional. This time, however, both parties must consider that listening and giving space and justice to the victims of long-standing war should should not be a separate agenda," she added.
THE PATH TOWARDS GENUINE PEACE SHOULD NOT BE DECIDED
BY ONE PERSON OR ONE GROUP ALONE
Go back to the Negotiating Table
Enter into a Bilateral Ceasefire
Listen to Victims of War and other Peace stakeholders in the Negotiation Process
Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte during his late-night press-con this week withdrew from the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippine (NDFP) and expressed wrath over the “unrealistic demands of the NDFP and its purported ceasefire violations.”
In rage, he swore to "drop all the bombs" in areas where the New People's Army (NPA) operate. Months before, the President swore that he will work towards peace during his term. Now, he shook his head saying peace may not come in this generation.
This reaction from the President, however, is a response to the sudden public announcement by the communist group of its withdrawal of the unilateral ceasefire due to alleged "massive violations committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)” and the reneging of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) of its promise to release all the political prisoners.
The round of talk in Rome brought so much promise and hope that this peace talks is going in the right direction. Thus, we were shocked that after a successful signing of the guidelines for Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and guidelines for the negotiation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) and Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR), the news of withdrawing ceasefire and disengaging from peace talks followed.
We, from the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), a faith-based network of peace and development civil society organizations, now ask both parties: how important is "peace" for you? Should peace be in peril because the immediate demands are not met? Should we believe that the goodwill and trust shown by both parties are only part of their respective strategies employed to achieve separate political agenda?
We strongly urge both parties to reconsider their positions and to go back to the dialogue table. Trust-building issues should not deter peace talks from proceeding.
While the economic and political agenda can provide a framework to effect just and lasting peace, we ask that you bring to the center of the dialogue table first and foremost the needs of victims of the long-standing war: thousands of men, women, and children who perished in non-stop battle; innumerable families who lost their home and land; countless children who were unable to find their schools and playground; communities who have grown weary and traumatized to the sounds of guns and bombs; unending numbers of victims that were tortured and killed by both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the NPA.
Come back to peace table. Enter into bilateral ceasefire.
Peace for all of these people and communities need to be heard. As both parties profess to be the voice and representative of people, we heed you to listen to the voice of the victims of the armed conflict. Address their immediate need while working on the institutional agenda. We ask that a listening process, a transitional justice and reconciliation process be undertaken in conflict-affected communities and make it as integral part of the talks.
We ask for appeal for more openness, trust, and transparency in the dialogue. We dream of dialogue tables that are inclusive, ensuring participation of various stakeholders from the communities, the NGOs, church, academe and even business, AFTER ALL WE ALL ARE YOUR PEOPLE who will eventually benefit or suffer from the outcome of the agreements you both will enter into.
Lowering the Age of Criminal Liability is CRIMINAL in Nature
(RA 7610 declared the State to provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms.)
We are overly dismayed that a plenary session is being held for one of the most outrageous law in the Philippine history. For lack of better ideas on how to curb criminality, our law makers are now going to legally process a bill that will label children as young as nine (9) year olds as criminals.
Their argument: children used by criminals go scot-free because of the special protection accorded to them. Supposedly, this is intended for the good of our nation.
We, a network of civil society organizations, rights groups, peace and faith-based institutions, call our lawmakers to wake up and see sense. For wanting something "good" for our nation, we seemingly became automatons, troubleshooters in worst sense that we're only too ready to shoot even our own children.
What is good for our nation are children who are well cared for: those who can go to school, who have roofs over their heads, can eat healthy food, and who have adults who are capable of providing guidance whenever they are lost.
So we ask for what reasons should those elders in the congress would want to prosecute and kill our lost children? If children are lost is it not because we, the elders, have erred?
This bill in itself is a crime because it violates the spirit of laws protecting children including, for example Republic Act 7610, that declares the state shall provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms.
If this bill aims to deter the criminals, who are using children in their dirty work, we may only end up punishing the children but not the older accomplices.
What is needed is a solid social welfare plan for poor families prioritizing children's education and meeting their basic needs. The more viable solution to prevent children from committing petty crimes is to get these families out of poverty.
To our elected leaders of the land, we believe that you have children, nephews and nieces, and younger siblings of your own
. Do we aim to be a nation who would line-up our children in need of parental care and guidance with hardened criminals? How will we be able to sleep at night knowing that these young ones, needing parental care and love are languishing in jail, facing a bleak future, threatened by abuse of violence, and worse, even death, because of our decision.
Shouldn't we look for and return to the flock, even just one lost sheep in a herd, just like our Lord Jesus do? To aid these lost children to grow as law-abiding citizen, our nation's hope, over choosing to throw them in jail for what their young minds cannot fully understand yet. We were all children once. We know the answer.