Atty. Bong Montesa is an experienced peace negotiator, mediator and conflict specialist. He was formerly an Assistant Secretary at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process where he headed the Peacemaking and Peacekeeping Group and supervised Philippine Government’s efforts on peace negotiations with its two major insurgencies – the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Southern Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army (CPP/NPA). In 2009, he was appointed Chairman of the government panel in the review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the MNLF and the Philippine Government. He was also the chief negotiator with a splinter insurgent group from the CPP/NPA. Prior to his work in armed conflicts, he was also Assistant Secretary and Chief of Staff at the Department of Education where he worked on creating a culture of change and creativity in our public schools. At present, he is a professor of law at the Ateneo de Manila Law School where he teaches political law, legal theory and problem solving techniques. He sits in the board of the Conflict Resolution Group Foundation, Inc.
Paulynn Sicam is a professional journalist who acquired a perspective in human rights as a member of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights from 1991 to 1994. As Commissioner-in-Charge of Education and Information, she directed the development of the CHR’s human rights training program for the Philippine military, police and public school teachers into a model of participative and experiential learning, for which the Commission received the UNESCO prize for Human Rights Education in 1994. After her retirement from the Commission, she was invited to share the Philippine experience in human rights education in India, Mongolia, Canada, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. From 1993 to 1998, she was a human rights adviser of the government Panel for Peace Talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front. From 2005 to 2010, she was a member of the negotiating panel. Today, she continues to serve the cause of peace as a consultant to the panel on communications. She joined the Benigno Aquino Foundation in 1995 where she presided over the development and implementation of a curriculum for instructors at the national police training units that integrates peace and human rights values and concepts in all of the subjects they teach. She was also a speechwriter for former President Corazon Aquino from 1995 to 2009. From 1997 to 2005, she was editor-in-chief of CyberDyaryo, an on-line newsmagazine dedicated to the issues of Philippine civil society. CyberDyaryo are both now defunct. In 1996, she joined a convenor’s group that engaged ASEAN senior ministers in dialogue towards the setting up a regional human rights mechanism in ASEAN. The ASEAN Inter-governmental Human Rights Commission was finally launched in 2009 but the advocacy for human rights promotion and protection in ASEAN continues. After graduating from St. Scholastica’s College in 1967 (AB- English), she taught for a year at a barrio in a logging camp in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. She began her career as a journalist at the Manila Chronicle in1968. As a reporter and opinion columnist, she has written widely about human rights, the peace process, agrarian reform, democracy and development, and the growth of civil society. She was awarded the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship in Stanford University by the Asia Foundation in 1984. In 1988, she won the Catholic Mass Media Award for her column, Heart and Mind and in 1989, she was chosen as one of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) for print media. In 1999, she was one of two Benigno S. Aquino fellows of the US State Department. A freelance writer and editor, she has edited numerous articles and books for publication in the Philippines and abroad. She is a member of the board of CORE.