Civic groups, LGUs vow to pursue sustainable peace in Mindanao

Sustaining peace is a shared responsibility.

This was the central theme during the “Mindanao Peace Forum” organized by the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro East Urban and Eisenhower Fellows Association of the Philippines in line with the celebration of the International Day of Peace on September 27, 2019.

“[The] peace problem is man-made. Therefore, it can be solved by man. Enough of war and oppression,” Dufel M. Lagrosas, district chairman for Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention of the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro, declared during the forum, which was attended by students, professors, and members of civil society.

Lagrosas said their club will continue to contribute to collective efforts to promote non-violence and sustainable peace initiatives in the country.

He shared Rotary Club members have been providing funding support to peace centers that are carrying out peacebuilding efforts throughout the globe.

Invest in Peace, invest in Mindanao

Ewin Toh, an Eisenhower Fellow, and past president of the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the need for Mindanao business leaders to invest in peace.

Toh, who talked about the challenges that were confronted by the business community after the 2013 Zamboanga Siege, urged business leaders to be more resilient.

“We have to take a risk. Help bring peace in Mindanao through economic development,” he said.

According to Toh, the economy of Zamboanga was badly hurt following the three-week siege. However, the business community remained steadfast and helped bring the local economy back to its feet.

For Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, all stakeholders in the community must contribute in efforts to bring enduring peace.

“Not just a village, not just a community, the requirement must be deeper and wider,” Moreno said

Gains in the peace process

In his presentation during the forum, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said the Duterte Administration is working hard to implement all signed peace agreements with the different revolutionary groups in the country

Galvez stressed the current leadership would not like to pass on the country’s security problems to the next administration and succeeding generations.

“Truly, we have entered an era where we can achieve meaningful peace that is anchored on sustainable development,” he said.

“After decades of negotiations, peace agreements we have signed with various fronts are now finally reaching fruition,” Galvez said, noting the recent decommissioning of MILF forces in Mindanao and the Kapatiran, a communist rejectionist group based in the Visayas region.

“These are being realized through the sheer determination and political will of the Duterte Administration to bring about genuine peace and sustainable development across our nation,” Galvez said.

The Presidential Peace Adviser said the country needs more leaders in the key sectors of society such as business, academe, government, youth, and women who will passionately own the peacebuilding efforts as this is a long journey to build the foundation of durable peace in Mindanao.

Galvez said the role of local chief executives is very important in setting up the local environment conducive to dialogue and conflict resolution.

“On our part, we will make sure the platforms will be available for everyone and for every stakeholder who wants to build peace,” he said.

The forum was attended by a total of 225 professionals, businessmen, rotarians, youth leaders, and local chief executives.

Other resource persons include Lt Col Harold Cabunoc, who talked about peacebuilding measures that the military initiated in communinist and Islamic radical infested areas, while Dr. Martin Macasalong of the Office of Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (OBYA), discussed the crucial role of the youth in advancing the further peace process in Mindanao. The OBYA is poised to become Bangsamoro Youth Commission leading to the creation of Ministry of Youth Affairs in the newly-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

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