DAVAO CITY—The Philippines has secured Finland’s pledge to continue its support to the peace initiatives of the government, especially with the settlement with the second Moro guerrilla front.
The new assurance would hew closely with the move of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) to tap women experts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in the field of peace process and reconciliation.
The Opapp said Finland Ambassador to the Philippines Petri Puhakka paid a courtesy call on Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza on Monday at the Marco Polo Hotel in this city where the latter extended the assurance of his country’s support to the Philippines’s “quest for lasting peace and sustainable development.”
“We are happy to do our part to help,” Puhakka said.
He also assuaged the government to continue its work “noting that change will not happen overnight.” “The people will need to manage their expectations,” Puhakka added.
Dureza briefed Puhakka on the government’s Comprehensive Philippine Peace Process, “particularly on the salient provisions of the recently passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and how the landmark measure will impact on the lives of the people in the region.”
“We are now at the [information and education] campaign stage. We want people to better understand [the law],” Dureza said.
He said he was confident of the Bangsamoro people’s vote for the passage of the landmark measure in the plebiscite scheduled in January next year.
“I have very high expectations [it will be supported] by the people,” he said.
The two officials discussed possible areas of collaboration between their respective countries, which would include a proposal for Finland to provide capacity-building assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“We really need your help to capacitate the people,” Dureza said. “We need to improve the lives of people. Development is very important.”
On the canceled peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front, Dureza said the government has not entirely locked the door. “It is still open and could resume once there is an enabling environment,” he added.
For the meantime, President Duterte authorized local government officials to conduct localized peace engagements with local guerrilla leaders.
Meanwhile, the Opapp would tap the expertise of Asean women peace advocates in the peace process and reconciliation efforts in the Philippines.
The Permanent Mission of the Philippines to Asean and the Ateneo de Manila University has already arranged for the holding of an Asean-wide “Symposium on the Establishment of an Asean Women for Peace Register [AWPR],” an activity to develop a pool of experts from Asean member-states to be resource persons in assisting conflict management and conflict resolution activities.
The Opapp said the symposium was set in December this year.
The Asean members would nominate women experts to share their knowledge and experiences in gender mainstreaming, capacity-building, women’s achievements, and the promotion of respect for human dignity and human rights under the context of peace, reconciliation and conflict resolution, the Opapp added.
The symposium would discuss the issues taken up in the Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in Asean that was adopted last year during the 31st Asean Summit.
Dureza signed the memorandum of agreement on Monday on the holding of the symposium to develop the pool of resources.
Maria Luz Vilches, the Ateneo de Manila University vice president for Loyola Schools, and Elizabeth Buensuceso, the permanent representative of the Republic of the Philippines to the Asean and the representative to the Asean Institute for Peace and Reconciliation Governing Council, signed for their respective institutions.
“We really need this MOA to institutionalize women participation,” he said.