OPAPRU opens award project as Peace Month observance ends

By Ali G. Macabalang

KIDAPAWAN CITY – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) wants to provide formal citations on individuals and groups with remarkable contributions to peacebuilding strides in the country.

The administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has reportedly enhanced the OPAPRU workforce to keep steering the national peace process that produced the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The President in his address at a recent United Nations assembly cited BARMM as a symbol of success in the Philippine strides for peace and unity building in the global scene.

Budget and Management Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman graced as a guest of honor the launch of the Gawad Kapayapaan or Peace Award project at the culmination of this year’s observance of the Peace Month consciousness on September 30 in Metro Manila.

Sec. Pangandaman lauded event organizers led by OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for their choice of the 2022 Peace Month theme – “Pagkakaisa at Paghilom: Isang Bansa Para sa Kapayapaan.”

“This excellent theme encapsulates the vision we have for the Philippines. From our years as a colony, then a commonwealth and now a sovereign republic, Filipino(s) have always wanted peace,” Pangandaman was quoted as saying in her speech.

She added: “In an archipelagic country like ours, with our different culture and languages, it can be challenging to achieve unity but is not impossible. We have always heard of unity amidst diversity and we know that this has been the case for the Philippines.”

She also hailed the “illustration of unity” among Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, Moro National Liberation Front founding chieftain Nur Misuari, MNLF faction chairman Muslimin Sema and President Marcos when the latter led the inaugural session of the refreshed Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA-2) in Cotabato City last Sept. 15. (Read Sec. Pangandaman’s further remark on BARMM in a separate story.)

Gawad Kapayapaan Project

OPAPRU said its Gawad Kapayapaan Project seeks to be a national premier award to recognize major contributions that individuals, institutions, and groups have made in pushing the comprehensive peace process.

The project aims to award selected peace advocates, champions, and exemplars for the critical role they have played in achieving peace in the country, and highlight the accomplishments, milestones, and innovative peace-building programs that have been carried out in building on the gains of the comprehensive peace process, the agency said.

It also bids to set standards and present good peace-building practices that can be replicated and sustained, as well as build, nurture and expand a peace constituency that will sustain a culture of peace and advance the government’s peace agenda.

An icon of the Gawad Kapayapaan trophy was unveiled during the project launch. It was designed by Zamboanga-based multimedia artist Rameer Amilasan Tawasil, the OPAPRU communications group said.

Tawasil grew up witnessing armed conflicts in his hometown in Sulu. His experiences are reflected in the bright and colorful paintings depicting the rich culture of his people, as well as the harsh realities in his province and Mindanao, OPAPRU said.

The trophy’s design, represented by a dove in an Ukkil pattern, “highlights the symbol of peace (and) emphasizes the traditional Moro art in Mindanao,” the agency said.

“The design embodies the messages of peace, unity, reconciliation with contemporary or modern art,” it added.

At the sidelights of the September 30 event, the OPAPRU also honored the late former President Fidel Ramos, the late Elections Commissioner Haydee Yorac, and the late Ambassador Manuel Yan for their invaluable contribution to the Philippine peace process, it was learned.

Ways forward for the country’s peace process

In a separate message, Sec. Galvez identified the interventions the OPAPRU will pursue to sustain the gains of the comprehensive Philippine peace process.

These include efforts to cultivate peaceful culture through peace education mainstreaming and interfaith dialogues; multi-level implementation of the National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security as well as Youth, Peace and Security; expand  the transformation program to sustain the gains of the Local Peace Engagement; and enhance and diversify the membership of the different Peace Implementing Panels.

“We are not only addressing issues of the women and youth but also harnessing their capacities as peace-builders,” Galvez said.

Galvez also affirmed the agency’s strong support to the Bangsamoro peace process, including the BTA’s strides to enact BARMM basic codes and legislative measures, and accelerate socioeconomic interventions to develop the 33 barangays in six state-acknowledged MILF camps and five priority villages in Sulu.

He also committed full support behind President Marcos’ call on UN member states for the Philippines’ candidature to the Security Council for the period 2027-28 by “telling the world our formidable experience on the country’s peace process.”

The award project launch was attended by national government officials; former revolutionary leaders and their families; active and retired military officials; and members of the diplomatic corps and peace advocates. (AGM)

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