THE mind-boggling cost – Php6 billion not to mention the projected cost of rehabilitation — of winning Marawi back from the ISIS terrorist group and the escalation of armed skirmishes between government forces the New People’s Army after it was declared as a terrorist group by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte have proven the validity of the three principles underlying the comprehensive peace process stated in EO No. 125 that created the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to wit:
- “A comprehensive peace process should be community-based, reflecting the sentiments, values, and principles important to all Filipinos. Thus, it shall be defined not by the government alone, nor by the different contending groups only, but by all Filipinos as one community.”
- “A comprehensive peace process aims to forge a new social compact for a just, equitable, humane and pluralistic society. It seeks to establish a genuinely pluralistic society, where all individuals and groups are free to engage in peaceful competition for a predominance of their political programs without fear, through the exercise of rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, and where they may compete for political power through an electoral system that is free, fair and honest.”
- “A comprehensive peace process seeks a principled and peaceful resolution to the internal armed conflicts, with neither blame nor surrender, but with dignity for all concerned.”
Apparently, President Duterte anchored his call for inclusivity in the peace process in Mindanao on these principles.
Echoing the President, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion stressed the importance of inclusivity in the peace process, “We at OPAPP recognize the diverseness of the people in Caraga region. We have Muslims, Christians and Lumads coexisting in this melting pot of culture and religion. It is important for us to recognize that our identity as Filipino goes beyond diversity. There are no barriers if we are working for the common good of our nation.”
In his recent address to Bulakenyos in Malolos, Bulacan, President Duterte announced that while he has halted the peace talks with the communists, “Bebot (Silvestre Bello III) and others can resuscitate the peace talks later.”
The President reiterated his commitment to peacefully address and settle the peace problem in Mindanao and warned that “Kapag hindi nagkaroon ng kapayapaan, papasok at papasok na naman ang ISIS.”
For his part, Secretary Bello expressed that there is still as the glimmer of hope that peace talks with the communists can still happen albeit the window may be small.
The foregoing makes it imperative for the Filipino people to get their acts together and rally behind a common call for peace and bring forth their sentiments to President Duterte.
One of the silent but potent initiatives that emanates from the Filipino people themselves is our Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan which gained the support of the 24,800-strong Department of Education National Employees’ Union (DepEd NEU), the largest government workers’ union in the country, during its 11th National Congress held in Baguio City.
Lawyer Domingo B. Alidon, who was recently re-elected for a term of three years as President of the DepEd NEU confidently said, “The recent events on the peace front is perhaps a shot in our arms and could push all Filipinos to work together to address the root causes of the armed conflicts.”
Actually, the Filipino people in whose name the armed conflicts are waged do not need to wait for a final peace agreement to move on.
With the help of Career Service Executives, from different agencies, we have identified community-based peace and development programs and projects that can readily be implemented anywhere through “Govergence” or the convergent delivery of government services currently being pushed by the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) as its contribution towards the realization of the peace and development agenda of the national government.
To back up the support of the CESB, the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) President Sis Annie Enriquez – Geron committed their support to our Bayanihan in terms of developing and managing an online Yes for Peace “survey” to supplement the paper and ink campaign being implemented by the Department of Education.
Also, Sis Annie offered, in front of participants of the 11th DepEd NEU congress, to help bring the campaign to the attention of President Duterte.
Through the years, we have gained the support of the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
We firmly believe that it is just a matter of time that the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front will heed the call of the Filipino people for the permanent cessation of armed hostilities; the conduct of open and participatory peace talks here in the Philippines; and the amendment of constitutional provisions and revision of laws that may impede the full implementation of programs and projects that may be agreed upon.
After all, the development of Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan involved the following stalwarts of the national democratic movement: Horacio “Boy” Morales; Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino before we were able to work cooperatively with the AFP and the PNP, in the spirit of Bayanihan, towards “a principled and peaceful resolution to the internal armed conflicts, with neither blame nor surrender, but with dignity for all concerned.”
To put it simply, for the Filipino people to make the comprehensive peace process move on, we must adhere to the words of President Duterte, “I am taking a step by step approach to settle the problem peacefully.” and therefore follow his lead