Chief negotiator and incumbent Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Jesus G. Dureza said the government is expanding its peace initiatives to include the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and other stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive peace package acceptable to all.
Dureza and members of the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) have been holding peace-building conversations with IP leaders in Mindanao to come up with an advisory council which will aid the peace process with various rebel groups in tackling various IP issues.
As a continuing engagement, the former will meet with IP leaders in upcoming peace-building conversations with different stakeholders in Surigao del Norte and Compostela Valley on January 12.
Dureza, in a statement, said he met over the weekend with IP leaders of North Cotabato in a gathering organized by Mindanao Peace Advocates in Midsayap, North Cotabato and told them they play crucial roles in attaining genuine and acceptable to all peace accord.
“You understand your situations the best; therefore, you are also the ones who can suggest the best solutions. But for this to happen, you also need to come together as one,” Dureza told IP leaders during a peace table conversation.
The advisory council will provide voices and assure key roles for the so-called “national minorities” in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and the implementation of Bangsamoro agreements with the Moro fronts.
Dureza underscored that creation of an IP advisory council is a guarantee for a more inclusive and transparent peace process under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
“We cannot solve your problems for you because we do not know what your problems are. That is why there is a need for you to sit down and discuss them and the possible solutions,” he added.
“We cannot promise to deliver all the needs you have mentioned, but what we can promise is that we will present your concerns during the negotiations,” Dureza stressed.