Public support, PH’s ‘biggest gain’ on peace process: Dureza

MANILA Presidential Peace Adviser, Secretary Jesus Dureza, on Monday said the biggest gain the Duterte administration achieved on the pursuit of peace has been the steady support of the public.

The statement came as he gave an update on the state’s comprehensive peace process and the gains it achieved in the past year for the 2018 National Peace Consciousness Month celebration in Quezon City.

“The biggest gain that we had is what? Engaging the bad guys and getting them on board? No. The biggest gain we have is that we have the attention and the support of the ordinary people, that is very important,” the chief of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said in his speech.

According to Dureza, signing several deals and laws would be useless without public support and participation in the government’s efforts towards peace.

“We can sign many agreements with all the groups, pass a law even, but if you do not get the support of the public, if you do not see the value of their support, nothing is going to happen,” he said.

“Working for peace is a never-ending work,” Dureza stressed. In this regard, he called for a unified action towards this goal regardless of ideology, religion, and culture.

Dureza delivered the State of the Peace Process Address (SOPPA) before observers and OPAPP’s partner advocates.

“It’s not really a waiving of the accomplishments of OPAPP, it’s just a compilation of what each and everyone contributed towards this work,” he said as a disclaimer.

“We merely provided the framework, the President first gives the guidance, we provide framework, but the key players are the people on the ground and those who support them through the different units,” he added.

Among these milestones was the passage of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) which seeks to address historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people and allow them self-governance.

Some would say this was not totally what was agreed upon, but Dureza underscored that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) themselves agreed to give this a “chance to work.”

But while there are milestones to be celebrated, the official stressed the need to address existing challenges on the ground.

“The bad thing is that the bad guys who wanted to disrupt peace are no longer targeting the authorities or even the armed opponents, they’re targeting innocent civilians,” he said, referring to the two recent Sultan Kudarat bombings.

“We see some milestones but we must also see to it that we try and address the challenges that we see on the ground,” he said.

Dureza also noted the unfinished works in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

“The Cordillera People’s Liberation Army or the Cordillera Bodong Administration issue is there. Now, we are addressing that,” he shared.

Dureza said stakeholders have now come together and supported the efforts to establish the Autonomous Region for the Cordillera as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.

“They see what is happening in the Bangsamoro, and they said ‘we are also entitled because the same constitutional provision provides also an Autonomous Region for the Cordillera,'” the official noted.

“Now, they have set aside their differences and have converged together,” Dureza said even as he expressed hope that the Congress will work on this.

This year’s formal celebration of Peace Month began when Dureza and Philippine Peace Ambassador Eva Psychee Patalinjug, the Binibining Pilipinas Grand International, rang the Peace Bell at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

The 2018 Peace Month is lined with activities to generate awareness and appreciation of the comprehensive peace process. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency