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PEACETALK: Dare for Peace and Justice: The momentum of history is with us

mindaviews peacetalk

(Speech of Senator Risa Hontiveros at the international conference on “Transitional Justice in Bangsamoro: What’s Next?” organized by foumZFD Philippines and GIZ-CPS Philippines on February 8, 2023, Day 2 of the three-day conference in Davao City)

Greetings of peace and empowerment!

I would like to send my best wishes and express my solidarity with our friends from the government, the academe, civil society organizations, international partner organizations, along with everyone from the peace movement, who are taking part in the “Transitional Justice in Bangsamoro: What’s Next” conference led by ZFD Philippines and GIZ-CPS Philippines.

I am confident that today’s discussion on establishing transitional justice mechanisms in the Philippines will not only help us create or refine policies and strategies for achieving transitional justice, but also energize our efforts to institutionalize these policies and strategies as part of government initiatives to secure peace in the Bangsamoro.

Indeed, there is a great need for an effective and resilient transitional justice legal framework—one that will empower the state to address legitimate grievances and correct historic oppression, injustices and marginalization suffered by our brothers and sisters.

While setting up legal mechanisms for transitional justice were mandated by the explicit provisions of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as well as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the simple but undeniable fact is there can be no hope of achieving lasting peace without the justice being long sought by our kababayans in the Bangsamoro.

That was why in the 18th Congress, we filed the proposed “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation for the Bangsamoro and Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Act.”

The said bill seeks to establish the National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro and Indigenous Peoples in the BARMM. The said commission will be tasked with addressing grievances such as historic injustices, human rights violations and marginalization through unjust dispossession of people’s territorial rights, propriety rights, and customary land tenure, among other means.

Under this proposed law, the government particularly commits to:
1) Taking appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures to prevent violations;
2) Investigating violations effectively and impartially, and to taking action against those allegedly responsible in accordance with domestic and international law;
3) Providing victims of a human rights or humanitarian law violation with equal and effective access to justice;
4) Providing effective remedies to victims; and
5) Providing guarantees of non-repetition.

Another salient feature of this bill is that it recognizes and protects the rights of non-Moro Indigenous Peoples within the BARMM, guarantees their inclusion in transitional justice mechanisms, and ensures equal protection of their rights in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and other laws like the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act.

The version of the “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation for the Bangsamoro and Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Bill” which we filed in the Senate in the 18th Congress took into account the reports and findings of our friends from the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

For the 19th Congress, we are currently in the process of refiling and upgrading this bill, with new inputs from various stakeholders and in consideration of present and future developments in the BARMM and in the entire country.

Today’s discussion will surely help us further improve the “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation” Bill into the best version we can present to the nation, one that will best serve the interests of our kababayans, as well as genuine justice and lasting peace.

Friends, I know that the work ahead of us is filled with challenges and uncertainties. But we have already achieved so much for the cause of lasting peace and justice in the Philippines. Let’s continue to struggle, and to dare for peace and justice. The momentum of history is with us.

Once again, best wishes to everyone taking part in the “Transitional Justice in Bangsamoro: What’s Next” conference. Mabuhay ang kapayapaan, mabuhay ang BARMM, at mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

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