HAVE WE LEARNED ANYTHING FROM THE MARAWI INCIDENT?
Personally, I think we have.
First, a small band of terrorists can wreak havoc that could cost the country billions of pesos and displace the lives of hundreds of thousands of peace-loving citizens. Current estimates place the cost of military operations to more than 5 billion pesos. The cost of rehabilitation can run from 50 to 100 billion pesos.
These figures have not yet factored in the economic opportunities lost during the five-month war to defend and protect the sovereignty of the Philippines. The psychological damage to the children as well as the adults of Marawi, to be blunt about it, incalculable! While all of them agree that this incident must not happen again, signs of division as to who was right and who was wrong are clear. Some children have drawn what they envision to be when they grow up – armed and dangerous!
The way to recovery – through Bangon Marawi, Balik Marawi, Bawi Marawi, One Marawi and such other independent but intertwined program thrusts – is long and arduous.
But one thing is certain. We are all in this together. No one must be left behind.
Each Filipino, Muslim, Christian, and Lumad, must pitch in into the overall effort to ensure that what happened in Marawi will not happen again anywhere in the Philippines.
It is incumbent upon all Filipinos to get involved in our collective involvement and pro-active participation toward a Peaceful, Progressive and Prosperous.
A few days ago, I was given the opportunity to present our Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan campaign to the delegates of the recently concluded 4th National Youth Leadership Summit (YLS).
In brief, I discussed with them the four A’s of peace advocacy: 1) Ask unifying question;
Affirm the responses generated; 3) Assert the goals set; and 4) Act for the realization of the goals.
also discussed with them the four phases of the Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan campaign:
- Peace education and advocacy – this is currently being undertaken through private and public and private elementary and high schools as well as colleges and universities. To date, more than 15 Million Filipinos, 10 years and older, have responded and have thus clearly stated the foundations of our advocacy:
- Permanent cessation of armed hostilities between the government and all armed groups to enable the government to allocate resources to education, social services, women empowerment and other productive endeavors to address the roots of the armed conflicts.
- Conduct of open and participatory peace negotiations here in the Philippines instead of halfway across the world to enable Filipino people to participate meaningfully in crafting the final peace agreements or at least get to know how the negotiations are conducted. After all, all the protagonists claim that they are fighting for, protecting and serving the Filipino people.
- The amendment of constitutional provisions — including but not limited to the form of government — and laws that will impede the smooth implementation of comprehensive peace agreements.
- Declaration of Zones of Peace – based on results of the first phase of the campaign, Barangay Councils shall declare their respective barangays as Zones of Peace which essentially declares that armed groups are not welcome. Municipal/City Peace and Order Councils (MPOCs) shall follow suit as soon as the majority of barangays in their respective municipalities/cities have been declared Zones of Peace. Provincial Peace and Order Councils (PPOCs) shall follow suit as soon as the majority of municipalities/cities in their respective provinces have been declared Zones of Peace. Regional Peace and Order Councils (RPOCs) shall follow suit as soon as the majority of provinces their respective regions have been declared Zones of Peace.
- Convergent delivery of Community-based Services – a comprehensive menu of existing community-based government services, including implementing guidelines, shall be made available – through websites of all government agencies, non-government organizations, social media and other forms of information dissemination — for reference of all local government units, particularly the Barangays.
- Amendment of Constitutional Provisions and Laws – Constitutional provisions and laws shall be amended to enable the smooth implementation of comprehensive peace agreements. After all, members of Congress shall be involved in open and participatory peace negotiations that shall be live streamed on the internet to ensure the transparency of the process for the information of the sovereign Filipino people.
The 126 delegates to the YLS who will join the growing ranks of the Youth for Peace movement have unanimously committed themselves to follow through the activities of Yes for Peace in their respective municipalities, cities, provinces and regions and look forward to participating in the symbolic turnover of Yes for Peace to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on December 10, 2017 – International Human Rights Day.
For its part, the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat has signified its interest in the event subject to further discussion to determine the outcome of the event.
In reply to our letter addressed to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Undersecretary Severo S. Catura underscored the importance of Yes for Peace’s current effort to align the quest for peace with the concept of human rights, “As President Duterte stressed… human rights must work to uplift human dignity, so shall an environment where just and lasting peace prevails uplift our human dignity indeed.”