Editorial: Choose peace

THE Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) reported that Secretary Jesus Dureza met with 47 mayors from the provinces of Panay Island in Laua-an, Antique, to discuss the paradigm shift he is pushing for to push the peace agenda forward.

In the Opapp press release, it read: "Dureza stressed during the meeting with mayors that the peace negotiations and the development projects should go hand-in-hand, in contrast with the old ways of pursuing peace negotiations before implementing such projects."

He then cited Opapp's Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) projects, which not just provides platforms for community development but also creates an enabling environment conducive for peace.

This approach ensures that there is lasting peace and not just a peace that's waiting for some dole-outs.

This talk about peace has been going on for so long, but with many sectoral and even personal interests getting in the way, the poor remains poor as conflict rages on in their villages and municipalities. But we also know who the foot soldiers are. They used to be the peasants, the farmers. But since the farmers have seen the futility of picking up the gun to enhance the family's plight, those left to man the frontlines are the poorer of the farmers -- the lumads. That is how you can fan discontent: Ensure that the poor remains poor and oppressed.

Thus, we know Dureza is experienced enough to know that whoever the beneficiaries are, the enemies of the state will try to create chaos in their midst to return them to their impoverished states. Government must just keep on, anyway.

For indeed, at the root of all these unrest is poverty. But what complicated it and made poverty almost impossible to alleviate is graft and corruption on the government side, and the ideological agenda of the other side. That is, it will be unthinkable for the communist rebels to allow development in their bailiwicks because that will mean people will no longer look up to them, people will no longer listen to them speak of the poverty that government has locked them in, and no one will be enticed to take up arms to fight the communist cause.

Bottomline, it is up to the people to decide which interest will benefit them the most.

Obviously, it's government, especially a government that has pledged to serve the people and battle graft and corruption to its barest minimum. From there, the peace agenda goes to what Dureza described as "the bigger table", or the table of the people and not just the insurgent groups.

Peace after all, is a personal state that can only be fanned when an individual and the sector or community he belongs to decides they only want peace.

"We have to unite for peace together because the real work to sustain it is through the communities. But peace must come from the inner person. You cannot bring peace if you don't have it inside because you radiate to the people what you have," he said.

We are what we are because we have allowed ourselves to be. Choose peace, and there will be peace. For where will the masses roused up for revolution or terrorism come from if not from us, our families?
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