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Creation of body for rights issues in Mindanao conflict areas urged

Supporters of the Bangsamoro Basic Law march to the House of Representatives. Boy Santos, file
MANILA, Philippines — An independent body to look into human rights violations and other issues in conflict-affected areas will go a long way to bringing healing and peace to Mindanao according to the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
 
The TJRC, created as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, made this recommendation after consultations and listening sessions with more then 200 communities in the proposed Bangsamoro territory.
 
Part of the commission's tasks is "[proposing] appropriate mechanisms to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people; to correct historical injustices; to address human rights violations, including marginalization through land dispossession," it said on its website.
 
The commission's reports have been submitted to the implementation panels of the government and of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, both of which are parties to the CAB.
 
The commission has proposed the the establishment of an Independent National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission on the Bangsamoro. 
 
The proposed body will be tasked with listening to victims of conflict and investigate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws, the TJRC said in an emailed statement.
 
The new commission will also help resolve land disputes and dissposession in the proposed Bangsamoro territory. It should also promote accountability and the rule of law on violations in the past and present, "including crimes identified under the Rome Statute and under international conventions to which the Philippines is a signatory."
 
The new commission will ultimately be tasked with "promoting healing and reconciliation among the different communities affected by the conflict."
 
"Over the past four decades, an untold number of people in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago have experienced immense suffering. They have lost family members; they have been driven from their homes; they have lost their lands and livelihoods. They are poor and they are tired and they want peace now: not words about peace, but actions indicative of peace," TJRC Chair Mô Bleeker, a special of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said.
 
"As dealing with the past is a whole of society endeavor, the TJRC likewise hopes that the future of the peace process involves effective collaboration between the government, the MILF, civil society, and the Bangsamoro communities," TJRC said.
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