Dealing with the past is now one of the big challenges for the Philippines in its transition from war to peace in Mindanao. Moro and mainstream narratives on the root causes and the consequences of armed conflict are still partially conflicting, and are often based on prejudice.

At the same time it is clear that hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been displaced, wounded and killed during the war. It is therefore a welcome development that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro mentions that “the Parties agree to work out a program for transitional justice to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations.”

But what precisely are these grievances and injustices? Who committed them and why? What sort of justice is needed? And, what is the best way to deal with the past in order to strengthen coexistence and prevent further confrontation, to promote a more trusted, accountable and democratic governance system?

The four universal core pillars in the process of dealing with the past are:

  • truth
  • justice
  • reparation, and
  • guarantees for non-recurrence.

But there is no recipe on how to frame the approach, and each country makes its own choices, based on the developments during the conflict as well as the local cultural values and expectations.

There is now a wealth of international examples that can inform decisions that have to be taken in the Philippines. [read on]

This article was first published in the 'Peace Talks' section of MindaNews, 17 June 2013. The author, Kristian Herbolzheimer, is Director of the Philippines and Colombia programmes at Conciliation Resources

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