Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

GRP-RPMM Peace Process: The Beginning

(Below is an article by Kaloy Manlupig titled "The “Other” Peace Process: Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Mindanao (RPMM)". This article best describes the beginnings of the Peace Process)

There has been an unexpected breakthrough in the search for peace in Mindanao. While much attention is given to the two major peace processes: with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA), a third process quietly began in 2003.

Towards the later part of 2002, Iligan City Mayor Franklin M. Quijano received feelers from the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa sa Mindanao (RPM-M) that they wanted to explore possibilities of entering into a Peace Process with the Philippine Government to finally put a just end to a three-decade old struggle. Both Mayor Quijano and Ike delos Reyes of RPM-M agreed to approach Kaloy Manlupig of Balay Mindanaw to seek his help. A series of serious informal meetings followed.

RPM-M used to be the Mindanao "component" of CPP/NPA/NDF until they decided to break away from the Communist Party. They eventually became known as the CMR (Central Mindanao Region) rejectionist group. They later joined other rejectionist factions from Luzon and Visayas to form the RPM-P with Ike delos Reyes as the Secretary-General. RPM-P started peace negotiations with the Estrada government but failed to reach a national agreement as Ike's Mindanao group decided to split from RPM-P. They eventually formed RPM-M.

Serious efforts were then exerted to bring this matter to the attention of the government. Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles (then of NAPC and now OPAPP) responded enthusiastically to the information. After a series of informal dialogues and consultations, Secretary Deles wrote a Joint Memorandum with the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Eduardo Ermita addressed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recommending the creation of a panel to conduct formal peace negotiations with RPM-M.

Consequently, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Presidential Memorandum Order No. 108 dated July 19, 2003, has created the Government of the Philippines (GRP) Panel for Negotiations with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Mindanao (RPMM). The said Government Peace Panel, which is under the supervision of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), is composed of Mayor Franklin M. Quijano as Chairperson with NAPC Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles and Philippine Councilors’ League Chairperson Frolian Melendres as members.

Through the said Memorandum Order, the GRP Peace Panel has been mandated to undertake negotiations with the RPPM in accordance with the Government’s policy framework for peace and the national agenda on poverty alleviation. Similarly, RPMM has also formed its own counterpart panel.

The process that is used for this peace negotiation does not involve complex political negotiations. Rather, a local peace and development agenda that will have an immediate impact on the ground will be pursued. As part of this peace process, a series of Barangay and community-based consultations in areas where the RPMM has presence will be conducted to determine community problems as well as to identify the projects that can be undertaken as a response to these problems. The projects are expected to be mainstreamed and incorporated in all the levels of local development planning.

On September 22, 2003, the first round of formal talks and the signing of a document entitled Joint Commitment to Pursue Peace and Development in Mindanao signaled the formal process start of the peace process between RPMM and the Government. Two other documents, namely Rules for the Conduct of the Peace Talks and Rules for the Conduct of Local Consultations, were also signed.

Balay Mindanaw acts as the Independent Secretariat of this Peace Process.