NEW YORK CITY – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) presented the country’s experience on protecting the unarmed civilians caught in armed conflict in the Southern Philippines during a high-level briefing at the United Nations headquarters here in the city.
OPAPP, through its Undersecretary for Peace Accords Nabil Tan, tackled the present unarmed civilian protection component of the peace process between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), sharing that this component has allowed multi-sectoral and proactive responses to the security issues, increased involvement of the civil society in a security infrastructure under the peace process, and provided specific interventions to women, children, and other vulnerable sectors.
“Our civilian-based ceasefire monitoring and response has served as model for other countries with domestic conflict situation,” Tan emphasized. “For instance, grassroots leaders from the states of Karen, Kachin and Shan State in Myanmar as well as Georgia have travelled to Mindanao to learn how to implement these UCP (unarmed civilian protection) practices,” he added.
The foreign delegates present during the briefing commended the Philippine experience in civilian protection that it can be replicated for other conflict situations.
The UCP is currently one of the four peace and security concerns under the International Monitoring Team (IMT), a peace infrastructure created to monitor the parties’ compliance to ceasefire agreements. The other components are those dealing with security, socio-economic and humanitarian, rehabilitation and development.
“Even though civilian protection is a part of the International Monitoring Team, the agreement provides that it will continue to operate even if the IMT had already ceased its operation, highlighting the fact that we are putting civilian protection as one of the core priorities in our peace work,” the peace official underscored.
To ensure issues on civilian protection are effectively addressed, Tan disclosed that both the GPH and MILF implementing panels are considering on creating a Civilian Protection and Ceasefire Monitoring body separate from the IMT to give more focus to this important element in the peace process.
“Through all of our efforts towards peace, we shall keep the welfare and protection of our civilian population as a priority,” Tan said. The high-level on UCP briefing was organized by the permanent missions of Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, the Philippines to the UN, and the international organization Nonviolent Peaceforce.