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Where is Peace?

Benjamin E. Alforque, MSC
Speech at KAPAYAPAAN launching
Feast of St. Bonaventure
July 15, 2014, Claret School AV Room, Quezon City

Dear Friends, mga kababayan:

Good morning! Magandang umaga po sa ating lahat. Maayong buntag kanatong tanan.
This is a joyful occasion for all of us, gathered here together, inspired by a common aspiration, burning with the same fire of struggle, dreaming of the same reality: PEACE! KAPAYAPAAN! KALINAW! SALAM! SHALOM!

And yet, as I look at each of you this morning, my gaze goes far beyond this cute auditorium. I see the green fields in the provinces of Central Luzon: so beautiful to behold, narrating stories of simple loves and romances. And yet, the tillers of the soil, they who “plow the fields and scatter the good seed of the land” cannot even eat the produce of their labor because the land is not their own! In the midst of lush green and productivity, hunger, poverty and landlessness thrive. And there, there is no peace!

Behold, the huge cities of Metropolitan Manila! New skyscrapers, condos, commercial enclaves and malls have sprouted, you get the feeling you are not in the Philippines anymore! But when I look at the ground, what do I see? The urban poor are still homeless, jobless, meagerly paid, eking out a living by “delihensya”, begging, “natutulog sa kanilang mga kariton at sa lansangan”. Of course, they are happy, of course they are still human: they have their humor and jokes too! But my heart bleeds. Dapat wala na sana itong paghihirap na ito. Sana, kung yong bilyon-bilyong PDAF at trilyon-trilyong DAP ay hindi lang sana ninakaw, kinurakot at kinorap o ginamit para pangsuborno, or used to buy votes or used as bribes to maintain political patronage and dominance, wala na sanang ospital na ma-privatized at masarhan para sa mahirap, makapag-aral sana ang bawa’t bata, may trabaho na sana si itay, si inay, si kuya at si ate. When government bureaucracy is used as source of capital and income by the very few who know the rules of the games of corruption and subterfuge of the Constitution and the law, in the squalor of our cities, in the persons of the urban poor, there, there is no peace!

Go to Mindanao! See the US forces directing the war against terrorism in Philippine soil, favoring the Bangsa Moro Peace Agreement with eyes on our natural gas, oil deposits and the mines and minerals beneath our mountains and seas! Over the last few years, we have lost our shoe industry and the great Ang Tibay, our garment industry and other what could have been our nationalist industries. In their stead are services that exist purely to sell foreign products through outsourced human resources. And as China re-draws its territorial map, lays claim and occupies portions of our territory, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is imposed upon us. It has never been meant to defend our nation, but to condemn “coercive and threatening actions or the use of force to impede freedom of operations in international airspace by military or civilian aircraft, to alter the status quo or to destabilize the Asia-Pacific Region” for the sake of US hegemonic control in this part of the globe, the Pivot to Asia in a bipolar world. China and the US have substantial economic interests in our land; EDCA makes of the whole Philippine archipelago a US military base by its Increased Rotational Presence. Our government is helplessly impotent. It has not defended our people, it cannot defend our land. It has surrendered our sovereignty to foreign nations. It is so totally corrupted and morally bankrupted from within, it is now totally exploited from without. With the surrender of our dignity as a nation, with the exploitation of our resources by foreign big business, with the demise of our nationalist industrialists, when our sovereignty is being played upon, there, there is no peace!

Have the military and the police come to serve our people and nation? Kung may protesta ang mga magsasaka laban sa panloloko ng panginoong maylupa at ng DAR, pinapadala ang sundalo at polis. Sino at kaninong interes ang kanilang ipinaglalaban at pinoprotektahan? Hindi ang magsasakang mahihirap. Bagkus sila pa ang biktima. Kapag may piket sa pagawaan, o demolisyon sa kasyudaran, pinapadala din doon ang mga sundalo’t polis. Hindi para sa mahihirap, kundi para sa negosyo. Dahil walang kwenta ang mahihirap, dahil silay wala. Ang may kwenta lamang ay ang mga iilang mayayaman at naghaharing politico. Bayaran at nabibili ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas at ang Polisiya, bukod pa sa mga raket na pinamumunuan ng mga kasapi nito! So when people are unprotected but violated, there, there is no peace!

Now, there is this significant revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, with its New People’s Army and its allied forces in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. They have proposed a program for national freedom and social liberation. They have formed a government system with its Constitution, organs of political power and an army that is made up of volunteers mostly from the oppressed.

The CPP-NPA-NDFP have since 1968 waged a protracted people’s war, an armed struggle. The Government of the Philippines has responded with its own counter-insurgency campaigns: The Anti-Subversion Law was in place; BSDU and CHDFs were created by Marcos; Cory declared her Total War against the people within the framework of the Low Intensity Conflict and Strategy and created her CAFGUs; Oplans Lambat-Bitag and Bantay-Laya were hatched; this Oplan Bayanihan has been updated many times from Gloria to PNoy. The result: the armed and violent containment of the revolution has not succeeded. It only helped sharpen the guerilla tactics of the underground revolutionaries. No matter the denials of the AFP hierarchy and its aim to make the NPA an inconsequential force in 2015, the war continues to rage in the countryside, victimizing civilians as either caught in the crossfires or as people who have taken sides, but unarmed and are violated!

While war is a human reality in the unfolding of human history, still we must ask ourselves: should it continue? Listen to the heart beat of men and women in love: “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing, where have all the flowers gone, long time ago…when will we ever learn, when will be ever learn?”

We thank both the GPH and the NDFP for allowing their humanity and love to prevail over cruelty and hatred. For the price of war has been incalculable in terms of lives, relationships and resources. Listen to the anguish of men and women even as they accept the reality of war: “The cruel war is raging, Johnny has to fight, Oh I want to be with him, from morning till night.”

But the GPH and the NDFP have temporarily stopped to talking formally about peace, although each separately continues to articulate the desire to end the war through serious peace negotiations! We know that the road to peace has never been easy. The fact that they have to go to war in order to attain peace is proof of that. But each of them professes that they are into this business of war and peace because they love our country, because they want us to live as free men and women in our land, because they want to prepare the best future for our children and our children’s children.

Therefore, today we – for whom they wage war – address them as honorable men and women: GPH and NDFP, in the time of war, our deepest desire for genuine peace is incessant in our hearts. You and your respective soldiers know that. We ask you: listen to the voice of peace in your hearts! Listen to the terms of peace in our hearts!

GPH and NDFP, you know that mutual respect and honor give credibility to your negotiations. We ask you: honor the agreements that you have forged for the cause of peace. These are valuable signs of the rationality and principled negotiations you are undertaking for our sakes: the The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the instruments such as the Joint Monitoring Committee.

GPH and NDFP, you are respected intelligent men and women, endowed with analytical and scientific skills to understand the human condition. We urge you, inspired by your devotion to the Filipino people especially the poor and the little ones, be selflessly brave and go into the heart of the matter: Go to the roots of the armed conflict and seriously consider now a possible Comprehensive Agreement on the Socio-economic Reforms (CASER) that will pave the way for the smoother realization of radical reforms that we all know we need in our society.

GPH and NDFP: we know that you are men and women with a heart for humanity and for creation. You can smile and laugh at our little jokes and huge successes; you can also be angry and hurt and saddened by the adverse fortunes that we bring to ourselves. Therefore, we urge you: bring all your sense of humanity joyfully and creatively to concluding the war through the substantive agenda of Political and Constitutional Reforms. For we are almost there… the end of hostilities and the disposition of forces! This is our common joy, this is our common hope! Do not disappoint your people, do not disappoint your children and your children’s children!

As for us, mga kapatid, mga kapanalig, mga kasama, mga kababayan, ladies and gentlemen: I ask you: let us turn to one another with great hope and a huge smile and say: yes, let us be instruments for peace! Yes, let us be instruments for peace! Peace-building is also our common task and mutual responsibility. Let us organize ourselves, study the terms that make for peace, and propose these as the voices of the people for whom the war is raging!

In the old wisdom tradition, it has been said that for everything there is a season. There is a time for peace and a time for war. But in the wisdom of the new time, it has been proclaimed that in the times of war, no matter how just and humane the armed conflict is made to be, the desire for peace is always incessant in the hearts of men and women. Every act of reasoned violence contains with it a repentant heart and an anguished cry for genuine peace! Sana.. sana… hindi dapat mangyari ito…kaya lang….
Mga kababayan, mga maralitang taga-lunsod, mga manggagawa, mga magsasaka, mga kabataan, mga propesyonal at mga alagad ng simbahan na andirito ngayon: habang inaawit ng mga may sandata na hawakan ang baril sa kamay, na huwag sanang manatiling tahimik ito kung sila man ay bumagsak, maghawakan din tayo nang mahigpit, itaas natin ang bandila ng pagkakaisa, isigaw ang iisang tinig na ang katarungan ay nagbubunga ng kapayapaan at kaunlaran.

Let us build people’s constituencies for peace. A peace based on justice.

Let us offer ourselves now for the cause of genuine just and lasting peace!

Isang mapayapa at magandang umaga po sa ating lahat!






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