HD convenes forum to discuss the role and rights of persons with disabilities in the Philippines Peace Process

A one-day forum on the role and involvement of persons with disabilities in the Philippine Peace Process took place on 6 September 2017 in Manila, Philippines.

The event brought together representatives from various national associations and government bodies representing disabled people in the country – including the Philippine Disability Affairs Office and the National Council on Disability Affairs – along with senior representatives from the Moro liberation fronts and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The forum, organised by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) with the support of the Government of Australia, sought to look at how people with disabilities are involved in the peace process, as well as how their rights may be taken into account as part of the process.

Participants at the event discussed a variety of issues including the challenges people with disabilities face in conflict-affected areas, how they been involved in the peace process so far, and how the future Bangsamoro autonomous government may address and take into account their rights and special needs.

In his presentation, Hon. Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chair, said that “addressing disability is a powerful and successful unifying theme for peacebuilding initiatives across conflict divides.” Iqbal commended HD’s unique effort, saying that he has not been to any workshop of this kind. “It attests to the fact that even in the inner circles of peacebuilding, this is not yet very popular,” he said.

Other senior representatives attending the event included Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; Alipikre Basher, Member of the MNLF Peace Implementing Panel; Carmen Reyes, Executive Director of the National Council On Disability Affairs; and Carolyn Dagani, President of the Philippine Federation for the Deaf.

“Ensuring the involvement of all members of society in the peace process is key to its success and sustainability”, said Alex Douglas, HD Acting Country Representative in the Philippines. “Through this Forum, we sought to ensure people with disabilities are given a voice to express their special needs and an opportunity to support the peace process. We commend the Moro liberation fronts and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process for supporting this effort.” He added.

HD hopes to develop this initiative into a programme which will inspire a development in the implementation of policies for people with disabilities in the future Bangsamoro.

HD has been assisting efforts to promote greater inclusivity in the Mindanao peace process since 2005.

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For more information on the conference, please write to pr@hdcentre.org.

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