Duterte okays creation of a ‘peace corridor’

Army soldiers inspect a truck loaded with relief goods at the entrance to Marawi City on Wednesday (31 May 2017), the ninth day of fighting between government forces and the Maute group. MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 May) – A “peace corridor” will be created to expedite the resource and humanitarian operations for the affected civilians who are affected by the clashes between government forces and Maute group in Marawi City

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), in a press statement issued Wednesday, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the creation of a peace corridor after Monday’s meeting between the government (GPH) peace implementing panel, headed by Irene Santiago, and their counterparts from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – chair Murad Ibrahim and implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

OPAPP said the GPH and MILF implementing panels will spearhead the operations of the peace corridor and will formalize within the week the modalities and parameters of the peace corridor.

Citing GPH implementing peace panel chair Irene Santiago, the statement said this will “ensure the safety of the civilians and delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons” due to the sporadic clashes between government forces and members of the Maute Group.

During the meeting, the MILF vowed to cooperate with government in securing the areas where the peace corridors will be established.

Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesperson for Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said in a press conference Wednesday that the MILF members will assist in the humanitarian assistance.

“As far as I’m concerned, all I know is MILF chair Murad had a discussion with the President the other day. One of the agenda was how MILF could help us in the Marawi incident but I am not privy to the details on what was discussed. There is initial coordination on how they would help, but generally this would be in the area of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Smoke billows up in a portion of Marawi City that was hit by rockets fired from a gunship as fighting between government forces and the Maute group entered its ninth day on Wednesday (31 May 2017). MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

Santiago said the implementing panels would utilize existing peace mechanisms, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHs), for the establishment of a peace corridor, a “secure space where humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial.”

“The corridor is also a safe space for goods to reach hungry people in the rural areas whose access to Marawi’s markets have been cut off,” she added.

“Both the government and the MILF implementing panels are strongly committed to work as partners in finding creative ways to address the root causes of violent conflict in Mindanao at the soonest possible time, starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro enabling law,” Santiago said.

Duterte said in Sulu on May 27 that he is willing to recruit Moro rebels and even members of the New People’s Army and offered them the same benefits government soldiers are receiving to fight against terrorism.

According to Santiago, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission also briefed the President on the developments of the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

She said President Duterte emphasized the need to fast-track the drafting of the bill for it to be submitted to Congress in June. (Antonio L. Colina IV and Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews)