Manila, Philippines – President Aquino is counting on “people power” to help ensure the success of the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) scheduled to take place this month.
The President, in a message in celebration of the 7th National Peace Consciousness Month, said the peace process is “for you and should be by all of us,” citing that people are the “driving force” in the pursuit of peace.
This year’s celebration of peace month, “People Power at the Heart of the Peace Process,” recognizes the power of the Filipino people to steer the peace process to the fore, the President said.
“As long as we have ownership of it (peace process), our collective voices will continue to reverberate for peace. We will ensure that these will be heard through responsive governance,” he said.
“As we remember the landmark events of the past this September, let us look forward to forthcoming developments, particularly in the revival of the talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, that are set to take place this month,” he added.
The President said he believes all the triumphs the nation achieved would not have been possible if not for the concerted efforts of peace advocates from the communities, from friends in civil society, and from the common, compassionate Filipino who believes in equality, good will, and the power of positive discourse.
“Their solidarity demonstrated through active involvement in the dialogues, consultations, and other spaces for peace has provided us a staunch brace to sustain our work for peace and development,” he said.
He said September is a momentous month in the nation’s history due to the important landmarks in the quest for just and lasting peace.
The government’s peace accords with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and with the Moro National Liberation Front were forged in the month of September of 1986 and 1996, respectively.
“Each year in this month, we celebrate these and other notable breakthroughs while rekindling our fervor to build a more peaceful and progressive society. And as we recall the milestones, we acknowledge the people—from within government or without—who have been the driving force in our journey towards peace,” he added.
The President said the nation has already embarked on a “journey of transformation” after the people has long been shackled not only by violence, but also by the insecurity, cynicism, and paralysis that arises from violence. He said such journey necessarily entails the active involvement of every Filipino.
“The future remains bright. May more stakeholders from the private sector and the general citizenry be enthused to participate in empowering venues to pursue the peace process. Together, let us break barriers and foster gains that will surely be remembered in the next peace months to come,” he said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles earlier said the President is expected to issue this week a set of guidelines for the new government panel that will talk peace with the MILF.
Deles said the government is also finalizing the organization of an advisory board to the peace process. Malaysia has been retained as third party facilitator of the peace talks between the government and the MILF.
Genalyn Kabiling, Manila Bulletin