A renewed vision of peace PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 January 2015 14:37

The year 2014 will go in the annals of history as a good year for peace—a celebration of our victories in the struggle for peace over violent conflict.

With the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) early this year, we have firmly installed the pillars of shared peace and prosperity in a land once rendered by strife.

This coming year, with the expected passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by Congress and its anticipated ratification by the people in the core territory as well as complementary movements in the normalization process, we will see the rise of the Bangsamoro that shall serve as the anchor of lasting peace and prosperity not just for the Bangsamoro but for the entire country.

As the parties endeavour to complete the Tripartite Implementation ?Review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), socio-economic programs under PAMANA continue to be extended to benefit MNLF communities and to assist internally displaced families to ensure that no one will be left behind.

We welcome the coming together of the MNLF and the MILF under the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum, a mechanism facilitated by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to harmonize the efforts of the two Fronts in achieving the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people towards just and lasting peace.

In other areas of the country, positive strides have also been made in the name of peace.  Three years after its signing, the implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration/Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA/CPLA) has entered its final phase.  The group has now transformed itself into a legitimate, SEC-registered, unarmed, socio-economic organization called the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development (CFPD).

In the Visayas, the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade Tabara-Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB TPG)—a splinter group of the armed wing of the communist rebels—has completed the draft of its Closure Agreement with Government that is undergoing due diligence review for signing in early 2015.  Similar to the transformation of the CFPD, the RPM-P/RPA/ABB TPG, through the party-list Abang Lingkod, has chosen to take the road to peace by pursuing political and social change without the use of arms.

Recently, there have been strong overtures from the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) for the resumption of peace talks with Government.  Such signals are most welcome.  Government has always been open to resuming its seat on this peace table.  We believe, however, that for the peace talks to prosper, we need to pursue an agenda that is doable and time-bound, with agreements that are realizable within the remaining term of President Aquino.  More importantly, the peace talks must heed our people’s call for an end to violence.

We view peace negotiations as the beginning of sincere dialogue towards resolving the problems of the country without resorting to the use of arms.  It is about turning swords into plowshares, bullets into political power, as spaces are created for both sides to work together in peace to develop our country, address the new challenges that are battering the globe, and uplift the lives of our people.

Our experience in the past three decades of negotiations with the Communist insurgents, which have been marked by contentious pre-conditions and prolonged impasses, has understandably made us cautious about resuming talks that may again only disappoint our people earnestly longing for an end to violent conflict.  Professions of sincerity are no longer acceptable to a sceptical public.  We can resolve this conflict only by building mutual trust and understanding, and standing firm on our commitment to deliver a just and durable peace to the Filipino people without pre-conditions and with utmost consideration for the welfare of those we profess to serve and defend.

The peace that we have built on our other negotiating tables is the realization of President Aquino’s policy to pursue the peace process as a major agenda of his administration.  As we have achieved these historic milestones in the past year, we affirm our commitment to continue serving the interest of all Filipinos, especially the disenfranchised masses, who now see hope in the political, social, and economic reforms arising from this policy.

May 2015 bring us the peace, unity, and prosperity our people desire and deserve.

A happy, peaceful, blessed, and prosperous new year to us all! — A New Year message of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles