Our experience in the GRP-
RPM-M Peace Process has taught us one important lesson: Peace is not
only the journey’s end. More importantly, peace is a way of
journeying. Peace is not only the resolution of strife but a way of
I. After more than two years,
what have we achieved?
The Peace Process has
successfully managed to take off the ground. Three vital documents
have been signed by the two panels, local consultations involving
thirty barangays (with 24 barangays within an ancestral domain) in
three municipalities in two provinces in two regions of Mindanao
have been held, some confidence-building measure projects are
already being implemented, and more consultations are scheduled and
more development projects are due for implementation.
More importantly, this Peace
Process has survived and surmounted odds and obstacles – the lack
of resources, the long lull caused by the electoral/political
season, the differences in frameworks and approaches of the parties
involved, the moments of doubt when one or both parties were
seriously contemplating of ending the process, the moments of
impatience, anger and despair, and many other tests of endurance,
fortitude and commitment. The parties involved have emerged
stronger, wiser, more committed, more principled, more peaceful.
Most importantly, the Peace
Process has become a way of striving for those involved: the Panel
members, the secretariats, the partners, and most especially the
peoples and communities – a striving which has been peaceful and
Indeed, this Other Peace
Process is proving this Other Paradigm right: Empowered and
sustainable communities are the real foundation of lasting peace.
The process itself (and not the process’ end) will already allow
these communities to win small victories, and build peace by
themselves. The final resolution is important but communities need
not wait for this. Building peace is here and now.
II. What do we intend to do
We must not lose sight of the
ultimate goals of this Peace Process: 1. a final resolution to the
conflict through a formal peace agreement between GRP and RPM-M; and
2. empowered, sustainable and peaceful barangays, communities and
tribes able to freely analyze their situation, appreciate their
resources, identify their needs, formulate and implement their own
plans, and living in harmony with history, culture and nature.
III. How do we help the
Process reach these goals?
I propose that we focus our
efforts on the following:
1. Keep the Parties
talking. Continue facilitating the dialogue. Sustain and even
strengthen channels of communication both formal and informal.
Initiate regular face-to-face meetings between/among parties.
Observe mutuality – what one gets, the other also gets. Encourage
candid dialogues and discussions. Never allow long silences. This
will help ensure that the arms remain silent. Help organize the next
round of formal talks, and encourage the signing of the Formal
Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and even of the Final
2. Keep the peoples and
communities involved. This is non-negotiable. Organize and
conduct more local consultations. Exert utmost effort to innovate
and improve the consultation design to be better, more
participatory, more efficient, more effective and more productive.
Let’s target at least fifty more consultations before June 2005.
3. Show results: Small Victories that
Inspire. The peoples and
communities are hoping. In fact, they are expecting and waiting for
concrete things to happen after the consultations. We have asked
them to give their own share, show their own stake. Let’s finish
our consultation documentation. Let’s help package the proposals
for the priority projects. Let’s help mobilize external resources
to supplement and complement internal resources. Let’s set up a
system to monitor compliance and delivery of commitments from
various agencies and stakeholders.
4. Build on initial successes. Sustain
the momentum, spread the good news. Yes,
I think we should exert effort to let more people hear the good
news. Let us now do something about monitoring and documentation,
and about our media and communication plan.
5. Celebrate and anticipate
the good news but be prepared for the worst.
Our journey of peace