Dateline Manila: September is National Peace Consciousness Month Print
Friday, 05 September 2014 11:49

BY Sammy Santos


The month of September ushers the observation of National Peace Consciousness Month in the country wherein all government agencies, including local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations, as well as members of the private sector and civil society groups, are enjoined to initiate meaningful activities that support our quest for a just and lasting peace in all parts of our country.

Why the month September?

September was chosen to be the peace month because it holds several significant milestones in the history of pursuing peace in the country, according to Presidential Proclamation No. 675 issued by Malacanang in 2014.

Among the September events involved in the promotion of peace are as follows:

Sept, 1, 1992 - creation of the National Unification Commission which studied and recommended the adoption of the comprehensive peace process; Sept. 2, 1996 - signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF); Sept. 12, 1996 - National Day of Prayer for Peace and Reconciliation; Sept. 13, 1986 - signing of the Mt. Data Sipat (peace pact) between the Philippine government and the Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army; Sept. 15, 1993 - creation of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); Sept. 19, 2000 - launching of 2001-2010 International Decade for Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World; and Sept. 21, 2000 - International Day of Peace as declared by the United Nations.

With the OPAPP on the lead, government offices, the private sector, civil society, the Church and educational institutions are encourage to undertake activities that underscore the importance of peace.

This year’s observance of peace month, with the theme “Nagkakaisang Bayan para sa Kapayapaan” should be significant to the people of Mindanao, Zamboanga City included, as it also ushers a crucial stage in the current Mindanao peace process.

I am referring to the scheduled submission next week of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress which will then enact a new law to mandate the creation of a new autonomous political entity that will replace the existing Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

No less than President Aquino himself — and I dare say a vast majority of Zamboanguenos — will agree that the present ARMM setup was “a failed experiment.”

This is so because ARMM officials through the years have miserably failed to provide good governance in Muslim-dominated areas in Central and Western Mindanao, the primary reason why peace remained elusive in Mindanao.

In her message, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles expressed optimism that the proposed Bangsamoro agreement would deliver the necessary mechanisms to forge a permanent peace agreement with the MILF.

“The turmoil in Libya, Syria, Iraq and other countries remind us about the fragile state of the world we live in. No cause can be higher than the respect for human lives regardless of ideological, political, ethnic, social, and even economic differences,” Deles said. “The good news is that peace is upon us.”

“We are at the threshold of bringing to our people’s representatives in Congress a historic measure that would seal with permanence and acceptance the salient provisions contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” Deles explained.

Deles noted that while the road to peace was littered with daunting challenges and difficulties, “the Aquino government shall continue to seek an inclusive peace, a transparent transition, and an irreversible economic transformation for our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro, the rest of Mindanao, and the whole of our country.”

“We continue to hurdle each and every obstacle that has come our way in the path towards permanent peace signifies the depth of commitment of both the government and the MILF,” Deles said, “We shall continue to seek an inclusive peace, a transparent transition, and an irreversible economic transformation for our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro, the rest of Mindanao, and the whole of our country.”

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, for her part, said this year’s observance of the peace month was worth celebrating given the initial successes of the Mindanao peace talks.

“We know that implementing everything in the signed accord would not be easy. But we are not deterred by the many challenges that lie ahead,” Ferrer said. “It took trust and steadfastness on the part of the Government and the MILF for us to have reached this far in our peace process.”

Ferrer said since the signing of the CAB in March this year, the government and the MILF panels “have come closer to a well-developed vision of an autonomous Bangsamoro government that would work harmoniously and effectively with the Central Government and its constituent parts.”

“The elements and modalities for this would be spelled out in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that the President will be transmitting to Congress,” Ferrer said.

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Congratulations to young golfer Asiah Marie Nocum, daughter of Zamboanguenos Armand and Anne Nocum who won the silver medal in the Girls’ 13 division of the 2014 Veritas World Junior International Golf Tournament held at the Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, California last July 19-24.

Armand is the former journalist who is now a successful public relations executive in Manila.

Young Asiah Maria Nocum was one of the Filipino athletes honoured by the Senate during its regular session Wednesday when the chamber adopted two resolutions commending local athletes for winning the golf and archery tournaments in California and China.

Senate Resolution No. 843 commended Harmie Nicole Constantino, Carl Jano Corpus, Annyka Chanel Pineda-Cayabyab, Andrew Chua and the rest of the Philippine contingent to the Veritas Golf Tournament for making the country proud when they won in their respective divisions of the competitions held at the Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, California last July 19-24.

The resolution said the Girls’ 13 division was dominated by Filipino junior golfers led by gold medalist Constantino, Asiah Marie Nocum and Kyla Nocum (no relations to Asiah), who finished in the 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

On the other hand, Corpus bagged the gold medal in the Boys’ 12 division while Cayabyab and Chua, the team’s youngest victor, finished first in the Girls’ 10 division and the Boys’ 7 divisions respectively.

Annika Bianca Cedo, Samantha Green, Raymart Tolentino and Richnell Albano each got a silver medal in the Girls’ 15, Girls’ 14, Boys’ 17 and Boys’ 14 divisions respectively while Samantha Andrea Martirez, Josh Jorge and Sean Dominique Granada each won a bronze medal in the Girls’ 16, Boys’ 11 and Boys’ 9 divisions respectively.

The Senate also approved Resolution 861 commending 16 year-old Gabriel Luis Moreno for winning the first Olympic gold medal in the 2nd Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, last Aug. 24.

Moreno holds the distinction of being the first Filipino gold medalist in the Youth Olympic Games and deserves to be commended for the honor and recognition he has brought to the country, the Senate resolution said.