Saying that major breakthroughs in the current peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao may soon be possible, President Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles called on the Filipino nation to rally behind the “gains of the peace process.”
Speaking at the “1Goal for Peace” ceremony that kicked off the celebration of the Peace Month 2012 at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City Sunday morning, Deles said the peace process being pursued by government “would achieve more milestones if more Filipinos will support it.”
“The time for peace is now! Together, let’s score a goal for peace,” Deles told peace advocates and guests, including some 100 youngsters who underwent a football clinic with members of the Philippine Azkals football team that highlighted the “1Goal for Peace” ceremonies.
“The values of teamwork, cooperation, support, determination and resilience amidst challenges and difficulties are important in pushing the gains of the peace process,” Deles added, underscoring the need for unity and collective efforts among Filipinos amidst diversity to achieve the ultimate goal of resolving the decades-old armed conflicts in the country.
“If we (all Filipinos) work together, we can make things happen. In working for a just and lasting peace, no one loses; no one is short-changed or aggrieved,” Deles explained. The theme of this year’s Peace Month celebration is “Ako. Ikaw. Tayo. Magkakaiba, Nagkakaisa sa Kapayapaan.”
In her speech, Deles explained that “our diversity as a nation is not a hindrance for us to work together hand-in-hand as we share the aspiration for just and lasting peace.”
“Constantly, we should inculcate and train ourselves and those around us the culture of respect, tolerance, and value for diversity,” she added.
Deles said that OPAPP maintains the government’s continued guarded optimism in the on-going peace process.
In the peace talks with the (MILF), Deles said “the government hopes to be able to sign a series of agreements within the year and complete their implementation during the Aquino Administration.”
On the ground, the ceasefire between the government and the MILF forces continues to hold. There has been no recorded skirmishes between the two forces since January 2012, Deles further said.
The 31st formal exploratory talks between the government and MILF are set to start this September, Deles said as she called on the public to support the “next stages of the peace process.”
“Let us take this golden opportunity for we are in a time filled with hope and optimism under the true and tested “Daang Matuwid” good governance platform of President Aquino,” she said.
The members of the Philippine Azkals and the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), who trained the children on the basics of football, extended their support to government’s efforts to promote the peace process and expressed their concern to help advance peace in the country as Ambassadors of Peace.
Aside from the football clinic, a Peace Fair was also held that was participated in by members of various private and civil society organizations. Those who took part and supported the Peace Fair were peace advocacy groups such as the People Power Volunteers for Reform, Asian American Initiative, Generation Peace, PNoyPinay, and Muslim Alliance for National Advancement.
For her part, Director Polly Michelle Cunanan, OPAPP Spokesperson, said the participation of the Philippine Azkals and the children in a football clinic signified “the building of bridges needed for the promotion of the culture of peace, unity, and understanding.”
Source: Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process