The peaceful will survive PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 September 2011 15:44

Since 2004, the nation has been observing September as National Peace Consciousness Month, per Presidential Proclamation No. 675 signed by ex-Pres. Arroyo.   The United Nations earlier in 2000 also had declared every September 21 as International Day of Peace, which is one of the reasons for the presidential declaration. The other reasons include such significant developments as:

Signing of the peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army in Sept. 13, 1986; creation of the National Unification Commission which studied and recommended the adoption of the comprehensive peace process in Sept, 1, 1992; creation of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process thru Executive Order No. 125  in Sept. 15, 1993;  signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front in Sept. 2, 1996; and, launching of 2001-2010 as International Decade for Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World back in Sept. 19, 2000.

The celebration’s objectives are: engage the Filipinos in involving themselves in the peace process; instill in the Filipinos the desire to have just and lasting peace; and promote the achievements of the government’s peace-building initiatives.

The OPAPP initiated several related activities during this month, to include a Hariraya festival in Metro Manila, musical concerts, a students’ conference-workshop, and film showing.

Although much of the country is experiencing the decades-old Communist insurgency waged by he New People’s Army, it is the people in Mindanao – especially those of us in the southwestern and central regions - where the need for peace is most acutely felt.  The 14-year long negotiation between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seems nowhere near a final resolution despite loud avowals for one by both parties.  Although Pres. Aquino is optimistically predicting about sealing a deal around his mid-term, complications unraveling on the ground continue to make the prospects appear difficult and distant. Hence, generating more grassroot support for the peace process through measures like celebrating a peace consciousness month is relevant more than ever.

But lest we forget, the Bangsamoro rebellion is not the only cause of violence and conflict in Mindanao.  Long neglected by the government in Manila, the South is trapped in vicious forms of so-called structural violence:  poverty, lack of and poor education, serious gender issues, environmental destruction, criminalities, lack of health services, perennial corruption in government, and others more.

Aside from the ongoing peace process with the MILF, it would be education and good governance that can more speedily establish real peace in Mindanao.  More and better educated youths will defeat poverty and deprive recruits to insurgent and terrorist fronts.  Good governance particularly substantial reduction of corruption will mean adequate services and benefits from government agencies.  Parenthetically, although PNoy seems extremely serious about his campaign against corruption, the track record of past governments, including his mother’s, are not quite encouraging.  Just look at how the Marcoses and their cronies continue to lord it till today over the hapless masses.

This perspective points to a definition of peace as being not a commodity or end-result to be enjoyed, but rather a real-life process that requires personal and communal skills, paradigms and attitudes.  In a world that is increasingly complex, competitive and confused, only the wise and brave in the ways of peace may well survive.  — Peace Advocates Zamboanga