Isang pagbati ng kapayapaan sa ating lahat!
This year’s National Peace Consciousness Month is filled with incomparable optimism and unprecedented accomplishments.
The opportunities to initiate the positive changes that we want to make and bring sustainable peace and progress in our land are within our grasp. It is only fitting that the theme of this year’s celebration centers on us—tayo—as a collective realizing our roles in pushing for change and peace: Tayo ang Pagbabago, Tayo ang Kapayapaan!
Prior to our term, we already extended to the National Democratic Front (NDF) our interest to resume our discussions on the negotiating table. The NDF welcomed our goodwill and we both agreed to continue the talks. To demonstrate our willingness to expedite the negotiations, we exerted our best efforts to facilitate the release of their detained consultants who will take part in the discussions. We also restored a unilateral ceasefire—as long as it is needed—to create an atmosphere conducive to our talks and cease the instability being experienced by our communities due to infightings. Although we have experienced “humps and bumps” at the onset, the talks in Oslo, Norway sent us strong signals that concluding the longest running communist insurgency in the world is a near possibility.
On the Bangsamoro Front, our message is loud and clear—the period of negotiations are over and we are moving forward in implementing all our commitments in all signed peace agreements. What we intend to do exhibits our desire to bank on what has been done. More importantly, we want that people in the Bangsamoro have ownership in peacebuilding. Our peace and development roadmap seeks to make the process more inclusive, where all stakeholders are accommodated, as much as possible. This is at par with President Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to correct the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro—by giving voices to the once marginalized and underprivileged.
On top of our engagements with the different rebel groups, our people must feel the dividends of peace. Simultaneous to signing and implementing peace agreements, we will launch massive development programs in our conflict-affected communities. We must improve the lives of our people in our communities, while we are engaging on the negotiating table. Development binds all what we have achieved and sustains peace on the ground.
The administration of President Duterte has already walked the extra mile to achieve peace. His intention to permanently end the armed conflicts requires the support and participation of the stakeholders. Now is our time to own the process—our ownership of the peace process begets durable peace agreements. Working for peace is always a joint effort between our government and our people. Our peace and development roadmap directs us to a shared peace and prosperity.
As we celebrate the National Peace Consciousness Month, we call on every Filipino to support and participate in building a peaceful and progressive country. May we always allow unity to triumph over diversity; understanding and respect despite disagreements; and justice for all those who have been wronged. We invite you to walk the extra mile with us for peace. May we always be instruments of peace and agents for positive change wherever we are and in whatever we do, not only for this month, but also for the days and years ahead. ###