19 July 2016
SC votes 11-4, acquits CGMA
The Supreme Court has spoken.

The Supreme Court, voting 11-4, acquitted former President and now Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in connection with charges that she misused funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Let us respect and abide by the High Court’s decision.

Pres. Duterte oks peace road map
A comprehensive peace road map that hopefully will bring about peace and development in the land got the presidential imprimatur during a closed door meeting late Monday afternoon in Malacanan.

President Duterte approved in toto or in its entirety the peace formula presented by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza which will address the Bangsamoro issue, the impending resumption of peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF, and the implementation of closure agreements with other rebel groups in the country.

At the same time, the President adopted Dureza’s proposed strategy of implementing massive development on the ground simultaneously with the work to implement agreements that government had entered into.

Dureza said: “I can sign a hundred peace agreements but if those on the ground do not immediately feel the dividends of peace, those agreements will not be sustainable.” President Duterte forthwith directed that the executive order of the OPAPP be amended to enable it to oversee all development projects and at the same time empower it to implement projects that are related to peace.

On the Bangsamoro, President Duterte declared that we are now already on the “implementation stage as the time for negotiations are over.”

The roap map now which is described as “inclusive” entails the operationalization of a mechanism where an all-Moro body will be tasked to draft anew a more inclusive proposed enabling law that will be filed with Congress in lieu of the so-called “Bangsamoro basic law” ( BBL) that was not passed by the previous Congress when it adjourned. The peace strategy envisions the consolidation and/or convergence of the various peace agreements already entered into like the MILF’s Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the MNLF’s 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA), including relevant provisions of the Republic Act 9054 (the ARMM law) and the Indigenous People’s Rights Acts (IPRA) of the IPs. The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) provided for in the MILF’s CAB will be reconstituted with representation coming from the MILF, MNLF, the ARMM and other Bangsamoro representatives.

Work on the new proposed bangsamoro enabling law will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal setup, the latter expected to come later under the planned time line. The reconstituted and inclusive BTC will also be mandated to propose amendments to the Philippine Constitution that are pertinent to the bangsamoro as inputs towards eventual federalism in the land.

In the same Malacanan meeting, President Duterte also approved the way forward in the impending resumption of peace talks with communist rebels. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, government panel chair, led in the oath-taking of the new panel members. The resumption of talks re-set tentatively to the middle of August 2016 will be preceded by the release of some 11 leaders of the CPP/NPA/NDF who are presently detained and who will participate in the talks. President Duterte directed that legal procedures be complied with, to effect their temporary releases pursuant to the previously signed joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees (JASIG).

Incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were invited to the Malacanan meeting and expressed support to the new peace road map. Both leaders also committed to send their respective representatives from both Houses to assist in the peace work. An enabling law will have to be passed by Congress to implement the new peace road map of the Duterte administration. PND

Dureza: Peace roadmap to pave the way for federalism

In a meeting in Malacañan on Monday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the new “Roadmap to Peace” that will address issues with various rebel groups, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Work on a proposed Bangsamoro enabling law will be done simultaneously with the effort to install a federal system of government, Dureza said, adding that the mechanism is aimed at setting up a federal state of the Bangsamoro and will proceed towards a nationwide federal setup.

“This will cover our engagements with the Bangsamoro and the CPP-NPA-NDF, and then, of course, our effort to do closure to the agreements with the other rebel groups like the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and the RBB,” Sec. Dureza said.

Under the Duterte administration, the peace process with communist and Muslim rebels will not only be inclusive and committed to all signed peace agreements, but will also be consistent with planned reforms.

“We are now in the process of implementing the peace agreements that have been signed, first, in 1996 with the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari; then, we have the recent CAB or the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro with the MILF; and, of course, we have also to deal with the governance unit called the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao covered by Republic Act 9054. Perhaps we can put also in the same level the concerns of the IPs or the Lumads as covered by the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act,” Dureza said.

In the same Malacañan meeting, PRRD also approved the resumption of peace talks with the CPP-NDF-NPA. The panel headed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III led in the oath taking of the new panel members. The formal talks with the communist rebels have been set on August 20 to 27 this year.

Also present in the said meeting were the two presumptive leaders of Congress: Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

“We thought that the legislative branch would be a very important component of our work for peace because the executive department, which I represent, would merely sign an agreement. But we know very well that implementation of an enabling law will have to come through Congress and that Congress should approve it,” Dureza explained.

The Peace Roadmap is going to pick up the pieces that were left off from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which was tasked to come up with a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BTC will be recomposed under the Roadmap as approved by President Duterte.

The all-Moro BTC will be mandated to do two things: to draft a more inclusive proposed enabling law that will be filed with Congress in lieu of the BBL; and to propose amendments to the Constitution as originally stated in the mandate of the BTC. (PND)