PICC, PASAY CITY — Türkiye Ambassador H.E. Niyazi Evren Akyol expressed his government’s full support to the comprehensive Philippine peace process, noting that it is something that other countries can get inspiration from.
Aykol made this commitment during a courtesy visit to Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. here last November 26.
“It is actually said in the UN speech of President Marcos, when he said we have achieved this great moment [in the peace process]. And I present this to you as our example to work this way if you are elected to a security council,” Aykol said.
“Our world is full of conflict and the peace process in the Southern Philippines. We know how difficult and impossible it was. And now we can say it is possible. It is actually a model in my opinion for mediation efforts that other countries can use. Not only the present situation of BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) but the process is more important, how it has gotten there,” he pointed out.
Sustaining the gains of peace
During the meeting between the Turkish envoy and Galvez, the two discussed the peacebuilding interventions being carried out by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) in support of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
This initiatives include, among others the delivery of the socioeconomic interventions to the six previously government-acknowledged Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps and 33 core barangays outside the Bangsamoro region; the implementation of the decommissioning of MILF combatants and their weapons; and the provision of capacity-building support to the BARMM government to ensure its smooth transition until the first BARMM elections in 2025.
Galvez emphasized that the implementation of the normalization process is crucial, as fulfilling the national government’s commitments under the CAB is expected to pave the way for the signing of an Exit Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the MILF by the end of 2024.
The peace adviser also briefed Aykol on the Transformation Program to be implemented for Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members; the Normalization Program being carried out for members of the Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA), and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) now called Kapatiran; as well as the capacity-building efforts that are helping former communist rebels rebuild their lives.
Türkiye’s commitment to Bangsamoro peace process
“I’d like to note that Türkiye is a long time partner in the peace process. We have the best interest in the success of the peace process and its stability in the Philippines,” Aykol said.
“The implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and now, the functioning of the BARMM, these are the turning point for a lasting peace in the Southern Philippines,” he added.
Cooperation between the Philippines and Türkiye encompasses a wide range of areas, including trade, commerce, education, and peace and development.
The Turkish Government, through its Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has been implementing various socio-economic interventions in the Bangsamoro since 2015.
In 2017, Türkiye’s bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines reached to $1,490,000.
Among the programs the TIKA has implemented include livelihood projects in cooperation with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the delivery of a Php7 million mobile operating clinic to help in the implementation of the Comprehensive Bangsamoro Health Development Program.
Recently, TIKA has also provided educational materials and medical equipment to schools and clinics catering to the needs of the Muslim community in Mindanao.
The development agency has also supported the Bangsamoro Rescue Team (BARET), an independent non-partisan humanitarian organization operating in Cotabato City and neighboring provinces.
In particular, TIKA has provided the team with an emergency response vehicle and other equipment such as stretchers, wheelchairs, portable oxygen, communication and radio sets, and fire safety equipment.
“Allow us to express our gratitude and of course beyond that, the strong commitment of President Marcos Jr. [to our nations’ strong partnership]. I’ve been talking to other ambassadors who are interested in the peace process and have joined our voice in praising President Marcos’ strong leadership,” Galvez told Akyol.
Support to decommissioning process
“We deeply appreciate the successful finalizing of these agreements, but his commitment is most admirable and we are supporting him in any way we can. You can trust and rely on us, [as] we will continue to go further, especially on the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) which is very important,” Aykol said in response.
The IDB was established in 2014 by the GPH and MILF to oversee the process of decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons in accordance with the CAB.
The body is composed of three international experts (including the IDB chairperson) and four local experts jointly nominated by the GPH and MILF. Türkiye has chaired the IDB since its inception.
Galvez thanked the Turkish government for its unwavering support and commitment to help push forward the Philippine peace process.
“We thank the Turkish government for their support. Despite the distance of our countries, Türkiye has always felt close, through their programs and projects implemented here in our country. Thank you for the commitment and rest assured that our government will always be willing to help any way possible,” Galvez said. ###