MANILA -- A high-level delegation from Turkey is in the country to meet and dialogue with Philippine officials and learn from the successful peace talks of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The delegation include high-level members of Parliament from Turkey's main political parties; civil society representatives coming from non-government organizations (NGOs), think tanks, academic organizations, and universities; and journalists, media personalities, and political commentators.
Kerim Yildiz, director of the Democratic Progress Institute (DPI), an international NGO, told Philippine peace panel officials led by former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani and peace panel legal team head Atty. Anna Basman that the Turkish government wants to learn from the conduct and lessons of the Bangsamoro peace process for Turkey’s own recently-revitalized peace talks with the Kurds.
Yildiz noted “the Turks are at a very important stage in the process with the Kurds that has recently started,” emphasizing that the assistance of Philippine peace officials in conducting the briefing, among other activities, “would have a very substantial impact.”
Yildiz said the delegates are interested in discussing “the architecture of a peace process, including the negotiations and cessation of hostilities; the role of the media; the role of civil society in mobilising a peace process; and the role of third parties in a peace process.”
During the briefing, Bacani also thanked Turkey for its contributions to the Bangsamoro peace process.
“I’d like to thank the government of Turkey and the people of Turkey for their very active involvement in the peace process with regard to our talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Bacani said.
“Turkey is represented in the International Contact Group together with the United Kingdom, Japan, and Saudi Arabia—these are four countries represented—and four international NGOs,” Bacani noted. The ICG observes the conduct of the peace negotiations between the government and MILF.
“It’s second involvement is in the Third Party Monitoring Team, there is an international NGO from Turkey that is represented in the Third Party Monitoring Team,” he added. The TPMT is tasked to monitor compliance of the government and MILF to all signed agreements.
“Turkey is also represented in the Independent Decommissioning Body which is chaired by the former ambassador of Turkey to NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], Ambassador Haydar Berk,” he explained. The IDB is tasked to oversee the decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons.
The delegates were also interested in the challenges that the Bangsamoro peace process is facing especially in terms of the implementation of peace agreements, but Bacani explained that prejudices and biases against Filipino Muslims is a bigger challenge to the peace process compared to the implementation of agreements.
“The harder challenge is the change in mindset, in terms of a new way of thinking, eliminating the prejudices and biases of the past. That’s the harder one,” Bacani said.