No more armed conflict by end of Aquino presidency?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 November) — The Aquino government will work towards the resolution of all armed conflicts in the country by the end of its term in 2016, Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process today said.

Speaking before media executives at the opening of the 6th Mindanao Media Summit at the Garden Oases Resort here, Deles said the government aims to achieve this by “waging peace on the ground” in particular addressing the social and economic roots of the conflicts.

“It is the intent of this government to ensure that when it makes its exit in 2016, there shall be no ongoing armed conflict left for it to hand over for the next administration to settle.  Peace negotiations and completed implementation of signed peace agreements with existing armed opposition groups is one track.  A complementary track is, however, necessary to pursue good governance and development in conflict-affected areas,” the secretary said.

She added the government will tap the support of non-government groups and other partners in pushing development in conflict-torn areas.

Partners from the civil society sector will be asked how they wish to engage in the peace process and they will be updated on its progress, she said.

Deles said the Aquino government’s national security framework rests on good governance, delivery of basic services, economic reconstruction and sustainable development, and security sector reform particularly instilling professionalism in the country’s security institutions.

The ultimate goal of the Aquino government’s national security policy is the safety and wellbeing of the people, she stressed.

She also said the government is committed to bring closure to the peace track with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) by amending the Organic Act [creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] to make it compatible with the terms of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

MNLF leaders have time and again complained that the 1996 peace pact has not been fully implemented.

Aside from pursuing the peace negotiation with the MILF, Deles said the government will work for the resumption of the stalled peace talks with the National Democratic Front with Undersecretary Alex Padilla heading the government panel.

She announced the government will create an advisory body to the peace panels.

“To avoid making the mistakes of the past government and restore confidence in the peace process, the President has approved the establishment of an advisory body to the different peace panels which will be drawn from the representatives of our legislature, members of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, former justices of the Supreme Court, former chairs of the government negotiating panels, and representatives of local government. The President has specifically stressed the need for representatives from local government to be part of the advisory body which will be regularly consulted by the panels,” she said.

Apparently, the government wanted to preempt a repeat of the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain fiasco, when the Supreme Court stopped the signing of the agreement saying it was unconstitutional. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)