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Civilian groups to form ’peace constituency’

Philippine panel affirms women’s role in peace talks with rebels

Civilian groups to form ’peace constituency’
Teresita Quintos-Deles in talks with civil society members
Government and civilian groups in the Philippines plan to involve the public, especially women, in the peace process following a resumption of negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) this month.

Teresita Quintos-Deles, adviser to Philippine president Benigno Aquino III on the peace process, said her office has been working with civilian groups to form a “peace constituency” that is needed to enable the people to participate in the peace process.

“If you don’t have a peace constituency, women won’t have a voice,” she said during a dialogue with delegates from local and international NGOs in Pasig City Tuesday. “More people understand now that we need women. Without women, violence would have become communal a long time ago.”

She pointed out that there are three women members in the government negotiating panels, one of which is set to meet the MILF in Malaysia on Feb. 9 while another plans to resume talks with the NDF in Oslo, Norway on Feb. 15.

Peace advocates in the Philippines are hoping the peace constituency plan will put the issues on the mainstream and also pressure not only the government but the rebels as well to sit down and settle the decades-old problems that had held the country “hostage” for so long.

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