From GMANews (Nov 20): Peace advocate advices AFP on post-conflict situation with MILF
A peace advocate, with experience in the Northern Ireland peace process, said that the Philippine government and the stakeholders who signed the Bangsamoro peace agreement need to show trust and commitment to improve the lives of those affected by conflict. This is the best way in which to ensure the success of the peace deal. Chief Executive of peace-building charity Co-operation Ireland and now a VSO Bahaginan placed volunteer with the Civil-Military element of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Peter Sheridan said that peace agreements draw skepticism and cynicism. “That’s where the leadership steps in,” he said. “It takes time to build trust and the government needs to do trustworthy things to build trust,” said Sheridan in a VSO Bahaginan press briefing Tuesday in Makati. Sheridan is advising the AFP on best practices in dealing with a post conflict situation as the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have signed a framework peace agreement. He added that peace building requires “healing fractured relationships” and “building trust “and not just the euphoria of signing the peace agreement.” Sheridan enumerated some of the necessary conditions that need to be met in order for a peace agreement to be successful. He said that one of the most difficult stages of implementing a peace process is holding elections and decommissioning arms. “A successful, thriving economy is required for a successful peace process,” Sheridan added. Also, peace building requires establishing an effective criminal justice and police system. Sheridan, who served with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for 32 years during the conflict with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), recalled that after signing the Northern Ireland Black Saturday peace agreement in 1998, a new police system was set up in 2004. He said while there will be splinter groups on the side who would not be convinced with the gains of the peace process, leaders need to “ keep persuading people to engage in peaceful solutions.” “If people see that there is an equal opportunity for everybody and a good future for their children and the peace agreement is genuinely implemented, they will be convinced to join the mainstream,” said Sheridan. VSO is the world’s leading independent, international development organization that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries.