By Doris Mariani, NP CEO
I recently visited our field programs in the Philippines and Myanmar to review our operations and meet with staff and stakeholders. NP has been in the Philippines since 2007 but our Myanmar program is relatively young, having been established in 2013. In fact, it was our work in the Philippines as the experts in civilian ceasefire monitoring and verification that instigated the invitation to Myanmar where the government and ethnic armed organizations were working on establishing their national ceasefire mechanisms.
Despite historic agreements that have been signed in both countries in the last year and a half, the journey toward peace is wrought with challenges. In the Philippines, the current debate is about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which embodies the government’s peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. During my visit, the draft law was undergoing debates at the House and Senate. In Myanmar, following the signing of the March 2015 draft peace deal between 16 ethnic armed groups and government, the debate centered on whether and when and what kind of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will be reached. Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement is viewed as a doorway to political dialogue, shaping political settlements and autonomy for various ethnic regions. At the moment, both BBL and NCA are delayed but hopes are high that agreements will be reached.