Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future

19 September 2012

Speech-Sustainable-peace-sustainable-futureSpeech of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Symposium/Forum on International Day of Peace of Laguna Youth Development Affairs in Cooperation with National Association of UNESCO Club in the Philippines
Cultural Center of Laguna, Provincial Capitol Compound
Sta. Cruz, Laguna
19 September 2012

Governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan, Vice-Governor Caesar Perez, Professor Serafin Arviola, Members of the Provincial Board of Laguna, Provincial Administrator Leonardo Ragaza Jr., Ms. Fatima Villasenor, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Magandang Umaga sa Inyong Lahat!!

Sometime in 1981, the United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Peace to “commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people”. Twenty years later in 2001, the General Assembly in its resolution 55/282 by unanimous vote decided that 21 September of every year would be observed annually as a “day of global ceasefire and non-violence”. This United Nations Resolution invites all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities during this Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

At this juncture let me share a little personal note with you. When I received this invitation some weeks ago and read the theme of the symposium as “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”, my very first reaction was--- this forum could be another one of those symposia that will dwell on the much-abused topic of human rights, on current concerns such as globalization and climate change. Indeed, these three topics seem to still be the trend, the fashion, if not the flavor of the decade.

But when I was made to understand that behind this theme that you selected is the United Nations’ resolution realizing that the date of such yearly commemoration is on September 21, I immediately came to the decision to join you in your activity today.
Allow me to explain myself. I have to presume that only a few of you here present today experienced the significance of September 21, 1972 in our history. Perhaps the youth would have learned this in school or in the various media pronouncements. In the Philippine setting, this was the date when my father, as President of the Republic, announced the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. And the very first decree he signed included the order to surrender all firearms owned outside the military and the dissolution of all private armies. Pardon the parallelism but I cannot help but to assert that in the same instance as the UN declared a Day of Peace, my father announced on the same date but 9 years earlier, the beginnings of the Philippine Government’s determined efforts to contain and stop all armed attacks and all forms of armed hostilities, and to bring about sustainable peace. That was forty (40) years ago today!

I am sure some of you or your parents would disagree with what my father did. But it will take us the whole day, if not, an entire generation to discuss the merits and demerits of the September 21 Martial Law declaration. Be that as it may, let me suggest that perhaps we should encourage more intelligent and objective debate on this issue and allow history to be the judge.

Let me proceed then to the topic you have assigned me to dwell on today.

A cursory examination of the early years’ theme of this Day of Peace reveals the emphasis given to Peace each year: in 2007, the theme was “Peace is the United Nations’ Highest Calling”; in 2008, it was “Human Rights and Peacekeeping” celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; in 2009 the theme was “Disarmament and Non-proliferation; in 2010 it was “Youth for Peace and Development” as the UN proclaimed 2010 as the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding” establishing that Youth, Peace and Development are closely interlinked; last year, the theme was “Peace and Democracy: Make Your Voice Heard”; and this year “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future” has been adopted as the main theme in conjunction with the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in mid-June 2012.

In the message of the UN Secretary-General, this year’s theme of Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future “highlights the fact that we cannot possibly think about a sustainable future if there is no sustainable peace. Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development, robbing people of the opportunity to develop, to create jobs to safeguard the environment, to fight poverty, to reduce the risk from disasters, to advance social equity and to ensure that everyone has enough to eat”.

This statement clearly indicates the proper approach we have to follow and that is --- sustainable peace must be built on sustainable development and only sustainable development shall ensure a sustainable future –the Future We Want and the future we all look forward to.

Let us examine the meaning behind this process.
First, let us ask what could be the reasons for conflicts to persist here in the Philippines.

Historical records point to the valuable natural resources that abound in our land, as the main ingredient, such as water, gold, oil, timber, ancestral land, and diamonds . In our archipelago, mining and logging are the principal stages that propel legal manipulations, ideological clashes and sometimes armed attacks between and among business interests, government agencies, civil society, poor underprivileged tribes and insurgency elements. In all conflicts among these actors, the issues of ownership, control and management of mining rights and forest reserves are critical to maintain security and continuing economic development in the affected areas.

The other main cause is what has been termed in most writings and literature as the “ideology-based armed conflicts” which aim to replace an existing political system with another preferred type. Under this category falls the Communist and Muslim insurgencies where the former aim to establish a communist or socialist system of government while the latter seeks a new Bangsamoro Nation as an Islamic state independent from the Philippines.

We all know the Communist ideology and approach had been based on agrarian reform neglect and failures, social injustice and repression. On the other hand the ideology of Moro nationalism as one academic study observes, rests on a combination or totality of “economic marginalization and destitution, political domination and inferiorization, physical insecurity, a threatened Islamic identity, and a perception of helplessness”.

Second, let us ask what is the generally acceptable meaning of “sustainable development”? Specifically what are the key elements of sustainable development that the Philippines should pursue?

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, in2002, declared that “sustainable development is built on three interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars - economic development, social development and environmental protection—which must be established at all levels: local, national, regional and global”.

This declaration therefore effectively requires and defines linkages that cut across issues as poverty alleviation, human rights, peace and security, cultural diversity, biodiversity, food security, clean water and sanitation, renewable energy, preservation of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Translating these into the Philippine scene, we can pursue efforts toward sustainable development as defined by the UN along the elements in pursuance of the UNESCO approach of teaching and learning for a sustainable future: (to wit)

A. Sustainable Agriculture – One of the challenges faced by the world and definitely by the Philippines is food security--- increasing food production in a sustainable manner to provide adequate and nutritious products to every Filipino without over-exploiting and destroying our ecosystem. With the increasing trend in our poverty levels, hunger and malnutrition continues to be a major concern of the development strategies of the current government.

B. Population – Population issues are always related to other critical concerns, namely demography, economics, urbanization, gender, religion, politics, food and nutrition, health and human rights among others. Moreover, it covers family planning and responsible parenthood issues. In the Philippines, this is indeed a very serious element as evidenced by the current debate on the Reproductive Health Bill now being considered in both Houses of Congress.

C. Sustainable Tourism – Tourism has been targetted by our government as a major source of income as in the case of Hongkong, Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations. Sustainable tourism defined as “tourism that respects both local people and traveler, cultural heritage and environment” has mushroomed in our country, accompanied by nature-based tourism, ecotourism, medical tourism and cultural tourism. In all these, we should also bear in mind that tourism brings along with it several negatives, of notably: social dislocation, loss of cultural heritage economic dependence and ecological degradation.

D. Globalization – This is one of the two most recognized elements that began in the late twentieth century and continues to this date. The other element is climate change. Recent developments in technology and economic development have created what we now call the “global village” or “networked world” where barriers of national and international boundaries become less relevant. This process is “driven economically by international financial flows and trade, by information technology and mass media entertainment and very significantly, by so-called “human means” such as cultural exchanges, migration and international tourism”. Our concern here covers the costs and benefits of the social, cultural and political impacts brought about by economic integration and communication technologies under the ambit of globalization.

E. Women/Gender--The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) have identified “Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women” as one of its goals until 2015. Since the Philippines is one of the signatories of the UN resolution adopting the MDG, our country had incorporated these goals in its development framework since 2010. This element includes increasing female life expectancy, protection of women’s rights, more female enrollees in schools and women’s participation in decision-making processes and leadership roles.

F. Climate Change –Climate change is the key process in the natural world with considerable opportunities for, and barriers to, sustainable development. Disaster management is one key concern under this element. For several months now, the Philippines has been experiencing natural calamities brought about by typhoons, earthquakes and floods. Further, it has been observed that our ability and capacity to anticipate and react to these calamities has been improving. Nevertheless there is still the need for more focus, logistics, training and financial support. The enormous resource requirements of infrastructure rehabilitation and resettlements are indeed mind boggling, to say the least!

G. Culture and religion—The last but not least key element of sustainable development is culture and religion. Our cultural and family values and our doctrinal orientation and religious beliefs mold and shape our way of living, our line of thinking, our reactions and as well as attitudes that are prerequisites to ensuring peace and sustainable development.

Having identified the major causes of conflicts and consequently barriers for peace, and having listed the key elements of sustainable development, how can we now design and develop our country to reach a sustainable future—the Future We Want, The Future we would like to bequeath to the generations after us!

The major government effort that I can immediately cite is the on-going peace process both with the MILF and the NDF. With the current developments, I have to declare that indeed we are not waging war against any of these insurgents. Instead, we are consciously seeking all possible measures and formulae for peace.

Yes, there have been shots fired. Yes there have been casualties from both sides. Yet we have continued to sit at the negotiating table to jointly design the wherewithals for peace . All these point to a positive sign of progress in the peace process. I recognize the sincerity and candidness of all the parties in the negotiating table whose primordial objective is to achieve lasting and mutually acceptable peace agreements.

Let us not belittle the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the Hacienda Luisita case. Although this is just one of the many agrarian reform cases pending before the Department of Agrarian Reform and the courts, it is my belief that the ultimate resolution of the distribution of Hacienda Luisita titles shall result in faster decisions on the rest of similar cases brought about by agrarian reform conflicts.

Needless to say, with conflicts minimized and barriers removed, we can then claim that we can look forward to a better planning and execution of our development programs; Infrastructure projects should move faster and social development programs should provide assistance directly to the needy and the marginalized.

With all the foregoing considered, we can look forward to decreasing dichotomies between peace and development. If in the past, because of our desire to accelerate our development we had to put pressure on our ecology and destroy our eco-system, we endeed up instead in creating greater inequality in our society.

Thus we have learned our painful lesson, and we have swallowed the bitter pill! All the recent and increasing calamities and armed and ideological conflicts that have confronted our country and our people are, to use the cliché – A WAKE UP CALL TO ALL OF US!

Ladies and gentlemen. You and I are residents of the same planet and citizens of the same country. There is no doubt that we can together achieve sustainable peace for a sustainable future. Most of you are young; you have a big stake in this enormous task and a substantial role in this millennium challenge. Now is your turn to show to the next generation that you can provide them a better world to live-in-a truly sustainable future. This maybe a tall order! Rise up to the occasion of a sustainable peace for a sustainable future!

Muli, Magandang tanghali sa inyong lahat.
Maraming Salamat at Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!