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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Creation of Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program for the Bangsamoro approved
13 September 2018 04:55:45 PM

The House Special Committee On Peace, Reconciliation and Unity chaired by Rep. Ruby Sahali (Lone District, Tawi-Tawi) approved yesterday House Bill 5669 which seeks to establish a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations and marginalization through land dispossession.

Authored by Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), the bill provides that said program shall be implemented by a National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) whose creation is also provided in the bill.

The bill declares it is the policy of the State to pursue peace and development throughout the country and particularly end the conflict in Mindanao.

Towards this end, the State shall formulate and implement plans and programs, as part of the peace process to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, historical injustices, human rights violations, and marginalization through land dispossession.

The State shall further guarantee non-recurrence of such injustices and violations.

The bill refers to transitional justice as "the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society's attempts to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation. Such processes and mechanisms include criminal prosecutions, truth telling, reparations programs and institutional reforms."

During the hearing, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza expressed hope that the NTJRCB shall exist not just for the Bangsamoro but for the entire nation because it covers wide-ranging issues.

“Thank you, Congressman Belmonte. It’s a wish but we’ll try to get the President to certify it as urgent. Try lang, no promises but we will work for it,” said Dureza.

Transitional Justice and Reconciliation (TJR) consultant Atty. Ishak Mastura said transitional justice and reconciliation may be integrated in the normalization process and the aspiration of the fighters on the ground.

"I read the bill, it is a short and good bill, even in the process of choosing the commissioners,” said Mastura. He thanked the panel and the author of the bill.

Belmonte said the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao is rooted in the legacy of historic injustice on the Bangsamoro people.

"The oppressive national integration policies as well as the economic exploitation of Mindanao by external actors, through the use of colonial-era land laws that enabled the dispossession of many original possessors of their land, among others, impelled the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to engage in a protracted war with the Philippine government that began in the early 1970s,” said Belmonte.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which broke-away from the MNLF in the late 1970s, likewise engaged in an armed revolt until the late 1990s to the early 2000s, said Belmonte.

The bill mandates the NTJRCB Commission to design and formulate mechanisms to implement and supervise the program.

The NTJRCB Commission shall be guided by a framework of dealing with the past that respects, protects, and fulfills the right to truth, right to justice and right to reparation of the victims, and ensure non-recurrence of any violation. The Commission shall adopt its own operational guidelines and rules of procedures in formulating the mechanism, the bill provides.

The Commission shall be composed of a Chairperson and four regular Commissioners to be appointed by the President. The Chairperson shall be responsible for the overall supervision of the Commissioners.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Commission and two representatives from civil society groups shall be appointed by the President and shall sit as non-voting members of the Commission.

The Chairperson, Commissioners and the non-voting members must be citizens of the Philippines and of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.

The Commissioner shall conduct a nationwide information, education, and dissemination program for the popularization of the rationale and principles of transitional justice and reconciliation as well as its implementing mechanisms.

Moreover, the appointment of members of the Commission shall be made through national consultations. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process shall propose to the President a selection and appointment process for the members of the Commission.

To carry out the mandate of the Act, the amount of P100 million shall be appropriated from the contingent fund of the Office of the President on the year the Act is approved.

Thereafter, the Commission shall submit to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) its proposed budget for inclusion in the General Appropriations Act (GAA). | Eddie Galvez