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Duterte approves ‘roadmap to peace’

President Duterte has given a green light to a comprehensive “roadmap to peace” covering various rebel groups, that includes proposing an alternative measure to replace the botched Bangsa-moro Basic Law (BBL).

The government’s peace action plan also covers the proposed “temporary release” of communist rebels who will be involved in formal peace talks scheduled next month.

The approval of the peace roadmap was made during the President’s meeting with cabinet members and other senior government officials in Malacañang last Monday.

“The President approved the new ‘roadmap to peace’, we call it. This will cover our engagements with the Bangsamoro including the CPP-NPA-NDF and then, of course, our effort to do closure to the agreements with the other rebel groups,” Presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said in a Palace press briefing.

“There will be inclusivity, henceforth, under the Duterte Roadmap for Peace where all the Bangsamoro factions, groups will have to come under one roof so that there will be inclusivity in the implementation of all this particular agreements,” he added.

Under the new roadmap, the Duterte government plans to introduce a “more inclusive” peace bill in lieu of the BBL previously endorsed by President Aquino.

Aquino’s proposed BBL failed to get the nod of Congress due to questions of unconstitutional provisions and fallout of the January 2015 Mamasapano debacle.

Dureza said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will be reconstituted with new members and will be tasked to craft a “new enabling law” that will be filed before Congress. The transition committee will include representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, and other Bangsamoro factions, he added.

“They will have to work out together the convergence of all their interests, of all these groups,” he said about the crafting of the enabling law stemming from the peace pact with the MILF.

“And, hopefully we can get an early approval. We are committed to implementing all signed agreements,” he added.

He said the BTC have also been authorized to propose amendments to the Constitution relevant to the Bangsamoro as inputs towards eventual federalism in the land.

On the government’s strategy with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), Dureza said the formal peace negotiations will commence on August 20 to 27 after years of standoff.

He said the President has authorized concerned government agencies to start working on the “possible temporary release” of NDF consultants who will participate in the peace talks. The release of the communist members however must have the approval of the court.

At least 11 communist leaders currently detained are being eyed for release for the peace talks.

Dureza said the proposed ceasefire and the activation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) are part of the agenda of the formal talks next month with the communist group.

Four new members of the government peace panel have taken their oath before President Duterte in Malacañang. They are former Rep. Hernani Braganza, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, and Atty. Noel Felongco.

Dureza said foreign partners are still welcome to be part of the government’s peace efforts with the rebel groups.