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Peace: A Global Challenge

By: Emmanuel Roldan May 28, 2011

(Published in Mindanao Goldstar Daily, Davao`s Peak Column by E.C. Roldan, May 28, 2011, Link:

DAVAO City - Last May 21, I attended a peace forum at Brokenshire Resort and Convention Center sponsored by the Mindanao Peace-building Institute (MPI) and Mindanao Peace Weavers. With me was Roman Guerrero of the Pangdaigdigang Alyansa ng Pilipino-World Filipino Alliance (PAP-WFA). Ironically, the date happened to be the "rapture" day proclaimed by a group of foreign end-of-the-world fanatics.


But what transpired in that forum was all about life, about love and hope despite war, injustice and famine in the world. Actually the forum was part of MPI`s Annual Peacebuilding Training where 22 peace workers and advocates all over the world would come to hone their knowledge and skills and probably to remold their attitudes and perceptions about peace. Every year, MPI with local partners invites participants to come to Davao for about a month and learn from prominent local and international experts and practitioners in peace-building.


I have not thought peace-building as an easy advocacy agenda. In the context of the Philippine situation, peace, like poverty is one of the most overanalyzed topics yet it remains to be misunderstood, elusive and rejected while efforts toward lasting peace are poorly funded. We used to have the Tripoli Agreement during the time of Marcos to address the Mindanao problem but until now our Muslim brothers and sisters are still shouting for secession and genuine autonomy.


Several peace talks grow and die along with the political careers of their initiators. Peace negotiators of both conflicting sides seem to indulge themselves in more talks than working for peace. During the unpopular PGMA regime, peace talks were appropriate venue for mudslinging, accusing each other of certain violations of certain agreements that they did not agree in the first place. The CPP-NDF even used the peace talks to announce to the world that they were not going to negotiate again with the GMA government. How could a legitimate revolutionary movement get a fair chance at the negotiating table when the leadership of the other side was behind in declaring it as a mindless terrorist group and at the forefront of the "global war against terror", imagined or otherwise, of the US?


So what`s new? Well, we hope the new peace panels formed by PNoy will not end in vain like their predecessors. Success indicators have started to emerge at the local level as grassroots consultations and networking are going on. Last April, the government-MILF peace panel had conducted here series of consultations with local media, business sector and Mindanao Catholic bishops and would continue in other places of Mindanao. The same is true with the government-CPP/NDF peace panel where my friend James Zamora of Pap-Wfa attended their regional consultation at a hotel in Davao City early this month.

I think people`s participation in the peace talks is among the missing-links of the previous peace talks. Prof. Rudy Rodil, book author and one of the speakers of the Peace Forum and who was once part of the previous peace panels, said "both the Lumads and Visayan settlers are indifferent on the Muslim autonomy issue mainly because they are misinformed."


He presented the historical context of the Mindanao Conflict and Current Trends in the Peace Negotiations and talked about the challenges they faced in crafting of the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain (Moa-Ad) which was declared later unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The highest court cited the lack of people`s consent as among the shortcomings of the said agreement. 

While the forum tackled on the national peace issue, other speakers from Sierra Leone, and Pakistan also shared their initiatives for peace in their respective countries. I tried to relate their situation with our country to see if their peace strategies are better than our peace efforts.


Sierra Leone, which literally means "mountain of Lions," is a small country of 4.1 million people founded in 1462 and is rich in history and natural resources, notably diamonds. They used to be a colony of England until their independence in 1970s. They had a vibrant democracy until they succumbed into harsh military dictatorship. In 1982, civil war broke-out with dissidents being allegedly supported by militants from nearby Liberia. Economic and "blood diamond" wars continued unabated bringing unimaginable horror, hardship, lost of lives and properties and curtailment of civil liberties of individuals. Today people are traumatized and fed up of war and are seeking for peace. They have a slogan in Sierra Leone "Never, never again shall we take arms against each other." 

Sounds familiar, isn`t it? When can we have such slogan heard in our streets?


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