PEACETALK: Outsider, 3rd party Observations, Insights

(Delivered at the Kusog Mindanaw conference on Federalism on 30 November 2016 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City)

I was privileged to be invited as a resource person during the Oslo 2nd round of talks between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front last October. I can only guess that Balay Mindanaw was invited because of our modest peacebuilding program particularly our peace courses with the security sector, and our community based peacebuilding work in communities in Cotabato, Maguindanao and in Surigao del Sur – these are areas directly affected by the armed conflicts.

It was an inspiring learning experience for me. I never imagined that I would be in the same room with the negotiators from both sides, having privileged access not just to information, but more significantly, to the real persons behind the legends. I was thrilled and starstruck meeting them. Of course, selfie selfie din pag may time.

I was able to sit in several negotiations. It was a different experience having sat on both sides of the table. I sat as part of the NDF team during the Joint Monitoring Team negotiations in the morning, and sat as part of the GRP team in the ceasefire negotiations in the afternoon.

It was also an exciting learning experience to participate in the NDF workshops on welfare state and power sharing. Of course, it was also equally exciting to sit with the GRP team usually over beers.

I can only hope that my presence was also useful and helpful.

As an outsider, I thought the atmosphere that pervaded the Oslo talks was that of openness, mutual respect, friendship and fun – fellowship dinner with the Filipino community, concert,  watching Tibak. While there were hard and heated debates during the formal meetings, there was camaraderie outside the formalities.

More notes:

After 48 years, three main events that restarted the NDF peace process

  1. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
  2. Release of 19 detainees
  3. Unilateral ceasefire declaration

Guns are silent, people can talk


Agreed and signed framework and outlines (CASER, CAPCR, EHDoF)
Continuing meetings of RWCs

Working for release of 400+ with 90 on humanitarian

Key Challenges:

  1. Institutionalization of community participation in the process – broadening the peace table
  2. Protecting and sustaining the gains

The next round of formal talks is on January 18 to 25 in Rome.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Charlito “Kaloy” Manlupig is a Mindanawon peacebuilder. He is also President and Chair Emeritus of the Cagayan de Oro-based Kaloy Manlupig).