Peace is possible.
As we celebrate the International Day of Peace, today September 21, we continue to hope that the collective action for peace will bring about changes in the lives of the peoples. Conflict continues to persist in various parts of the world.
In the Philippines, we commemorate the suppression, arrests and detention of those who openly opposed the Marcos dictatorship, 37 years ago when Martial Law was declared.
In Southeast Asia, situations of unpeace and violence persist. The continuing violation of human rights of political prisoners by the military junta and the extension of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest remain to be one of the key challenges in pushing for a democratic rule of government in Burma.
And while the newest member country of the United Nations, East Timor, which recently celebrated the 10th year anniversary of the referendum vote, a historic and defining moment for the East Timorese people, is enjoying democratic space, still the task of nation building remain daunting as it seeks to strengthen its governance structures as well as restore and heal relationships. Equally challenging is responding to the justice issue of the families of those who were haplessly slain during the 24 years of violent Indonesian rule in the country.
This is shared by the same families here in the Philippines whose loved ones were tortured, killed at the height of martial rule. To this day, clamor for justice to be served remain strong.
And as our Moro brothers and sisters celebrated Eid’l Fitr as a day of joy, thanksgiving and solidarity, we are hopeful that the same spirit be shared as both the GRP and MILF mutually agreed on the establishment of an International Contact Group (ICG) that will aid both panels in the peace process. At the same time they have agreed to “sustain both the Government’s Suspension of Military Offensives (SOMO) and the MILF’s Suspension of Military Actions (SOMA); acknowledgment of MOA-AD as an unsigned and yet initialed document, and commitment by both parties to reframe the consensus points with the end in view of moving towards the comprehensive compact to bring about a negotiated political settlement; and work for a framework agreement on the establishment of a mechanism on the protection of non-combatants in armed conflict.
In Aceh on the other hand, the consolidation of gains of the Memorandum of Understanding in Helsinki proves to be a potential tension point as there are indications of discontent over the “trickle down effect”, socialization of benefits as stated in the signed agreement.
Amidst all these, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict in Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA),join the rest of the global community in celebrating the International Day of Peace today as we renew our commitment to tirelessly pursue efforts to find spaces and opportunities to dialogue, extend solidarity – for us to collectively work and push for the legitimate struggles of our peoples in the region and elsewhere in the world – for their rights to self-governance and democratic governance be recognized and respected. (30)