Aquino, celebrities pledge support to peace-A A +A
Friday, September 14, 2012
MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III on Friday led the launch of the "I am for Peace" campaign of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) in Malacanang Palace.
The event was attended by several local and international celebrities led by Black Eyed Peas' Apl. De. Ap, Anne Curtis and Gerald Anderson, who were among the showbiz personalities named as national peace ambassadors.
In his keynote speech, the President rallied Filipinos to stand behind peace efforts, even as he lamented that the Philippines holds the "world's longest-running communist insurgency."
"This has been our problem for 42 years. For more than four decades, there is still no final agreement between the government and the communist rebels," he said.
The Chief Executive, however, said that peace efforts of government are bearing fruit, with encounters between the communist rebels and the government troops are declining during his term.
"From 2010 to 2012, the incidence of encounter between the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] and government troops dropped. In fact, from January to August of this year, there is still zero encounter and hopefully it will stay as it is," the President said.
He also noted that over 600 rebels surrendered and returned to their communities and nearly 350 rebels were given immediate livelihood assistance.
Apl. De. Ap, Gerald Anderson and Anne Curtis, meanwhile, thanked the government for giving them opportunity to help in promoting peace.
As a musician, Black Eyed Peas member Apl. De Ap said he will promote peace through his music.
"I want to spread the awareness especially the Filipino-Americans in the US and educate them on what is going on in the Philippines and the social issues," he said, adding that his group will create Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote the "I am Peace" campaign.
Actress Anne Curtis, for her part, said that promoting peace is a personal conviction for her.
"The best way that I can probably promote the peace process is by being a good example by using means of what I have, where I stand in my career might be social media, on TV, how I behave even when I'm not in front of the camera. I think that's the best way I can set an example and hopefully reach out to my followers," she said when asked how she can promote peace.
Gerald Anderson, who hails from General Santos City, said he is willing to go to conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to promote peace.
"Ako kasi lumaki ako sa GenSan sa Mindanao and naranasan ko rin ho ‘yung bomb threats, 'yung bombing mismo na five steps away sa eskwelahan ko narinig namin. So at nakita ko at naramdaman ko rin ho 'yung takot, 'yung fear ng mga tao doon, at six years later, nandito ako in a position para makatulong sa iba," he said.
Anderson said they are not getting paid as peace ambassadors and they are all doing it by their own free will.
Other celebrities tapped by the Opapp as national peace ambassadors include Noel Cabangon, Ramon Bautista, Epy Quizon, Megan Young, Mikael Daez, Christian Bautista, Datu Khomeini, Rovilson Fernandez, Kiray, Igi Boy, Ebe Dancel, and Gloc-9.
The Opapp also sought the help of fashion designers, such as, Arnold Galang and JC Buendia, Philippine football team Philippine Azkals.
Actor Derek Ramsey, singer-actress Karylle, performer Sam Concepcion and social media personality Kimpoy Feliciano were also named peace ambassadors but were not present during the ceremony on Friday due to prior engagements.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles welcomed the new peace partners during the launch.
Deles noted how the gathering "not only have popular, admired, and well-respected celebrities, artists, and athletes, but also established and successful companies who have committed to join our peace campaign that will be launched today."
"We are glad to say that what was once a few will now become many. May this be the start of another lifelong partnership that will bring change and empower our nation amidst difficulties and tribulations," Deles said.
Also under the "I am for Peace" campaign, which seeks to mobilize various sectors of society to support the peace process, is the "I Choose-Peace" and the "Business Partners for Peace" programs.
During the launch, Aquino was presented with an official Azkals jersey with the "I am for Peace" logo by the Philippine Azkals, which officially sealed the partnership of the government, through Opapp, with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) under the "I Choose: Peace" program. The PFF and the Philippine Azkals are set to hold a sports program for the youth together with Opapp in hopes of promoting peace to the youth.
Pioneers of the "Business Partners for Peace," which include ABS-CBN Corporation, Golden Arches Development Corporation, Liwayway Marketing Corporation, M Concepts & Style, Philippine Seven Corporation and Zest-O Corporation were presented with plaques. Opapp is set to tie up with these companies that will carry peace as their advocacy through their products and service.
The launch of the "I am for Peace" campaign is part of Opapp's observance this year of the 9th National Peace Consciousness Month with the theme "Ako. Ikaw. Tayo. Magkakaiba, Nagkakaisa sa Kapayapaan."
Other events lined-up by Opapp for 2012 include the 1Goal for Peace kick-off event last September 2, KaPEACEtahan on September 21, and the I Want Peace Concerts on September 28 slated to happen in four areas nationwide, including the National Capital Region.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) serves as the events' official sponsor for the month-long festivities. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)