International Alert recently met representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Led by its chair, Foreign Affairs Under-secretary Rafael Sguis, the panel and the former UK Ambassador to the Philippines, Peter Beckingham, visited Alert offices in London before embarking on a tour to Belfast, upon the invitation of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to learn from the Northern Ireland’s peacebuilding experience.
The exchange touched on issues such ashuman rights and humanitarian issues, including the provision of reparation and compensation to the victims of internal displacement; socio-economic inclusion as an imperative for sustainable peace; the building of people-to-people relations and the importance of proportional inclusion in envisioning final political arrangements; and the Mindanao people’s peace agenda to be presented during the upcoming Waging Peace Conference in December. Alert was requested to submit a draft terms of reference for a three-tiered international contact group, focusing on the contact group’s nature, composition, leadership and relation to the principal facilitator.
Alert also met with the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) together with their chief political consultant, Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, in Utrechtwhere their offices for peace negotiations are based. After discussing the current political context in the country and the present stalemate of the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP, the following outcomes were reached:
- Regular communications on the peace process to be supplemented by a “Skype for Peace” discussion on how to advance the peace process during the last six months of the present administration;
- Support for the Peace Covenant which will be convened with major political parties and leaders on 8 December 2009 in the run up to the national elections in mid-2010;
- A roundtable on exploring ways forward in the GRP-NDFP peace process will take place on 7 July 2010 at Alert offices in London, with the involvement of key members of the main political formations. The focus will be on the critical measures required to advance the process during the first hundred days of the new government;
- Socio-economic reforms, and in particular, the agenda for the protection of the environment and the adaptation to the impacts of climate change will be used as a common ground between the conflict parties.