By Francis Wakefield
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., lauded the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) for its various activities in the region, especially in the conduct of the listening process and the preparation of reports that will aid concerned parties in the implementation of the transitional justice and reconciliation (TJR) process.
Galvez recently met with Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Andrea Reichlin and TJRC Chair Mo Bleeker at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in Pasig City.
During their meeting, the officials discussed future initiatives that could be jointly implemented by their respective organizations to help heal the wounds caused by armed conflict and address historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.
Galvez said he is hopeful the transitional justice and reconciliation will be carried out not only in the Bangsamoro, but throughout the country.
“Legitimate grievances and injustices cannot be addressed through the traditional penal system alone and we need to think beyond the parameters of our judicial systems and also include various groups, individuals, and appropriate systems that could help address these concerns,” Galvez said.
“The work ahead of us is overwhelming so there is a need to craft a ‘roadmap’ to fully operationalize the TJRC’s set of recommendations,” he added.
Galvez, Reichlin, and Bleeker also talked about various forms of assistance that could be extended to residents of the newly-created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), focusing on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that includes a legislative track covering the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and a normalization track that outlines socio-economic development programs, confidence-building measures, and TJR activities to be implemented in the region.
During the meeting, Bleeker also shared her organization’s recommendations as outlined in the TJRC report since the TJRC is “mandated to undertake a study and to make recommendations with a view to promote healing and reconciliation of the different communities that have been affected by the conflict.”
Galvez also discussed with Bleeker and Reichlin a proposal to conduct a workshop this coming May that will focus on TJR-related issues to ensure that its principles are fully integrated in all initiatives under the normalization track.
Galvez also confirmed the forthcoming meeting of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panels to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The peace adviser said a request will be made for the TJRC chair to assume an advisory role in the drafting of a roadmap that would formally operationalize the TJR.
“In healing the wounds of the past, we must go back to the past so that we remember and acknowledge the atrocities committed and learn from them,” he said.
Ambassador Reichlin thanked the peace adviser for hosting the meeting which she said has been both very substantial on issues related to transitional justice and very convincing of the government’s commitment to follow through on the TJRC recommendations.
The Government of Switzerland in 2014 has played a crucial role in the Bangsamoro peace process after accepting the Philippine Government and MILF’s invitation to chair the TJRC.
Ambassador Reichlin lauded Galvez’ personal commitment to the peace process and in achieving concrete and tangible results in the field of normalization.