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Dec 16

The Explainer: December 26

That was a scene from the movie, Patton, in which George C. Scott as Patton expresses the warrior’s attitude towards killing: the more efficiently you did, the less remorseful you had to be. But this is the season of the Prince of Peace, and so, it is a time when all political sides lay down the implements of war for a temporary truce.

What is our government doing for peace? That’s our task for tonight. I’m Manolo Quezon, the Explainer.

 

I.

 

The ancient Romans had a saying, if you want peace, prepare for war. The Roman point of view, one of its great historians pointed out, often confused peace-making with Genocide. Tacitus famously wrote of the Roman conquest of Gaul, they created a wasteland and called it peace.

We have been independent for 60 years, longer than any other former colony of a great power. But for nearly all of our six decades of independent national existence, we have been at war with each other. Agrarian revolt has haunted Central Luzon from the 1940s onwards; today marks the founding anniversary of the Maoist New People’s Army, Cultural Revolutionary child and successor of the Stalinist Hukbalahap that was crushed in the 1950s. Muslim separatists have waged war since the 1970s; the Cordilleras had its own rebellion in the 1980s.

Martial law and dictatorship in the 70s to the mid 80s transformed entire areas of our country into war zones. Since democracy was restored, peace building as a fundamental aspiration of our state has not only been policy, but pursued in some cases, pretty effectively.

Peace remains the ideal. The National Peace Plan has been incorporated as Chapter 14 In the Medium-Term Philippine

Development Plan (MTPDP) (2004-2010).

 

The National Peace Plan is a dynamic process with 5 Goals:

 

  1. Completion of comprehensive peace agreements with rebel groups resulting in the permanent cessation of hostilities by 2010
  2. Completion of implementation of all final peace agreements signed since 1986
  3. Mainstreaming the rebel groups through an enhanced amnesty, reintegration and reconciliation program
  4. Rehabilitation, development and healing of conflict-affected areas
  5. Strengthening the peace constituency and citizen’s participation in the peace process on the ground

 

We often don’t hear of some success stories in government’s efforts to achieve these goals.

 

For example, 40,277 former rebels from various fronts were provided PhP 77.43 M Immediate Assistance and 38,336 former rebels with PhP307.62M Livelihood Assistance. A lot still has to be done in this regard. One person working in this effort told me that the success rate for former rebel returnees, is a mere 30%. That is, 3 out of 10 former rebels successfully make a go of living peaceful, productive lives. The other 7 return to poverty, and sometimes, despair.

 

There is the Kalayaan Barangays Program (KBP)

– 600 conflict-affected communities, 137 of which are in Mindanao

– seeks to deliver core infrastructure projects such as access  roads, school buildings, electricity,   potable water and health facilities

– groundbreaking activities for projects also launched in Laguna, Batangas, Sorsogon, Albay and Kalinga

 

And there is the UNDP Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Programme (CPPB)

– policy and program development

 

–   capacity building for peace

–   empowerment of communities (outside Mindanao)

 

There is also the   Action for Conflict Transformation (ACT) for Peace 

   covers 15 provinces and 14 cities in the former SZOPAD areas

–   includes strengthening social capital (development of people’s organizations), basic services delivery, livelihood and enterprise development, capacity building and promotion of culture of peace

 

And there is the   Mindanao Trust Fund – Reconstruction and Development Program (MTF-RDP)

–   Phase I is ongoing in MILF areas

 

Also, government has instituted the   Reformulated Mindanao National Initiatives (MINDANAO NATIN)

–   integrated package for socio-economic assistance for conflict-affected areas

in Mindanao

 

And finally, there is the Comprehensive Program for Children Involved in Armed Conflict (CIAC)

– this program views Children as “zones of peace” and aims to prevent recruitment of  children by armed groups, as well as rehabilitate surfaced or  rescued CIAC

 

All these things aim at achieving piece. Every one of these programs reflects an official consensus on the government’s definition of peace; they involve the six paths to peace of the National Unification Commission (NUC); and are facets of the present administration’s overall program and strategy to pursue peace (i.e., the right and left hand approach); reconciling the pronouncement on “all-out war” against communist rebels with the peace agenda. This is an important point in this sad era of political murders.

 

When we return, the peace that’s been achieved, and obstacles to peace.

 

II.

 

That was a scene from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”,

which takes an ironic look at how militaries the world over claim to be instruments of peace.

 

With us is Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Dureza, a veteran journalist, former member of Congress, and now tasked with the promotion of peace with the enemies of the state. For this portion, I’ve invited him to update us on the various peace talks ongoing in our country.

 

Welcome, Mr. Secretary.

 

  1. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
    1. Security – Ceasefire ongoing since August 2001  and closely monitored
    2. Rehab and Dev’t – Phase I Implementation of the Mindanao Trust Fund – RDP ongoing in 6 areas and UN-World Food Program food ration distribution in 5 provinces
    3. Ancestral Domain – 13th round of Exploratory talks held on 6-7 September 2006 in Malaysia
    4. BEFORE“Talk and Fight”; All-out force; Tactical ceasefires to gain strategic advantage; Rehab/Dev’t after peace settlement is reached; “Power-haggling” to secure concessions
    5. NOW – Reasonable accommodation; 3rd party monitoring; civilian-centered ceasefire due to economic/social cost of conflict; Development efforts to bolster interim ceasefire; “Integrative” negotiations; exploration of acceptable new formula/solutions

 

  1. Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF)
    1. March 1998 – Comprehensive  Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed
    2. August 2004  –  CNN unilaterally suspended the  peace talks
    3. JASIG remains suspended
    4. Government remains open to negotiations

e. Peace Process Initiatives:

  • LGU empowerment through community-based initiatives and acceleration of basic service delivery to the 600 barangays under the Kalayaan Barangays Program (KBP)
  • Establishment of Peace Zones and Sanctuaries of Peace and Development by local communities
  • Public consultations and peace fora, i.e., Bohol, Sorsogon and Bondoc Peninsula

 

  1. Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB)
    1. Cessation of Hostilities – Ceasefire enforced through the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) and Local Monitoring Teams (LMTs)
    2. Development – P15.6 M approved for livelihood projects; P6 M for water projects and P12 M for school building projects in the KBP pilot barangays; 127 APOs granted P1.27 M immediate assistance and P3.718 M livelihood assistance; 203 out of 315 APOs/PPs released

 

  1. Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Mindanao (RPMM)
    1. 28 October 2005 – GRP-RPMM Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed
    2. Confidence-building measures undertaken in Maguindanao and Cotabato City

 

III.

 

Welcome back, we’re still with Secretary Dureza. Having updated us on government’s peace efforts, let’s ask him a tough question. What is the government’s left hand and right hand strategy? Can a government achieve piece by waging active war?

All these things aim at achieving piece. Every one of these programs reflects an official consensus on the government’s definition of peace; they involve the six paths to peace of the National Unification Commission (NUC); and are facets of the present administration’s overall program and strategy to pursue peace (i.e., the right and left hand approach); reconciling the pronouncement on “all-out war” against communist rebels with the peace agenda. This is an important point in this sad era of political murders.

 

My View

 

During a recent dialogue with the media, noted journalist Paulynn Paredes Sicam appealed for the building of a new peace constituency. She said one had existed after the grim experience of martial law, but our two decades of freedom and dissilusionment since then has practically destroyed that constituency.

The events orientation of media explains the predominance of stories on “wars” and “battles,” bombings, ambush attacks, and breakdown in negotiations, among others. But the pursuit of peace requires process-oriented reporting. In the coverage of complex issues such as the peace process, day-to-day journalism does not suffice.

Beyond casualties and body counts, there are stories such as the creation of peace zones, conduct of inter-faith (religious) dialogues, innovative peace programs, and sustained peace education, among others. Like peace itself, these stories should be given a chance in media reportage. They will have that chance, if you, the viewer, reader, and listener, demands more stories of peace, and less emphasis on war. And if every one of us resolves that guns only enforce the peace of the grave.

 

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