FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 21 SEPTEMBER
Nikki Delfin, Secretariat Coordinator, email@example.com
Youth celebrate Peace and remember Martial Law Day
Groups call for a just and sustainable peace nationwide
Quezon City, Philippines– Youth groups hold simultaneous peace initiatives nationwide on September 21. The date is infamously known as the declaration of PD 1081 or the Declaration of Martial Law but some commemorate it differently. September 21 is also the International Day of Peace, which is signed unanimously by the UN General Assembly.
“The youth can be apathetic but also active agents of social change and its time to bridge the gap. Many are unaware of the armed conflict and the International Day of Peace which is a day of peace, ceasefire and nonviolence,” said Mirma Mae Tica, the national spokesperson of GenPeace.
Armed conflict persist in the Philippines and remain an important issue. Consider the following:
– The Philippines experience the most protracted armed conflict and most protracted peace negotiations in this part of the world.
– The country’s armed conflicts continues after over 40 years
– In 2008 the country held the world record for most internally-displaced persons at 600,000. That year there were more internal war refugees in the Philippines than in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.
– This year, the world is attempting the largest reduction of armed violence on September 21. Throughout the world, groups are calling governments and armed groups for a day of truce from armed violence.
– The government is pursuing peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and a framework peace agreement is expected within the Aquino administration
– The National Democratic Front peace negotiations are stalled due to issues such as Safety and Immunity Guarantees for rebel leaders.
“We remember Martial Law, and the human rights and humanitarian abuses during the Marcos administration. Our theme ‘just and sustainable peace for our future’ is our way to pay it forward. We are making it national and the time for peace is now.” Tica said.
In Quezon City, Generation Peace Youth Network (GenPeace) leads students and youth organizations, women, indigenous peoples, local government and religious groups in peace rituals and an advocacy fair. Simultaneous peace day events also take place in Butuan, Surigao City, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Zamboanga, and Catarman. Activites range from candlelit vigil, art competitions, ceasefire petitions, a photo exhibit, a feeding program, peace rituals and forums. The youth organization also partners with local governments for localized peace resolutions and ordinances.
GenPeace is a national youth network that supports the peace negotiations through peace advocacy, education and empowerment programs. We supercharge youth organizations to become active for peaceful social change. Learn more about what we do at http://genpeace.tk/
We are part of local, national and global networks on peacebuilding: United Network of Young Peacebuilders, Global Youth Movement for an Alliance of Civilizations, Youth Solidarity Fund Winner — UN Alliance of Civilizations, Mindanao Solidarity Network, Waging Peace Philippines, Kilos para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan, GPPAC-SEA.
Towards Just and Sustainable Peace:
Declare a Peace Day Ceasefire!
A Citizens’ Call for a September 21 Ceasefire
On the UN-declared International Day of Peace, also called a Global Day of Ceasefire and Non-Violence – September 21, we urge the Government of the Philippines and the CPP-NPA-NDF to declare a 24-hour ceasefire. The ongoing ceasefire between the GPH and the MILF must be especially be upheld on that date.
We ask that the guns be silenced in our country on Peace Day, in solidarity with all who seek to end violent conflicts around the globe.
As peace advocates from diverse political, cultural, faith and social backgrounds, we call for a cessation of hostilities in order to highlight the urgent need for peace.
We support the ongoing peace processes that aim to resolve through political negotiations the decades-long armed conflicts in the Philippines. We are determined to accompany the process toward signing of peace agreements and more importantly, in the implementation of these peace agreements.
In the Philippines, September 21 is more known as the day when Martial Law was declared, that we remember by vowing, “Never again.” On this 40th year since the declaration of Martial Law, we still suffer its legacy of armed conflicts and stubborn roots of injustice and poverty.
Therefore our call for peace is not just for the absence of war but further for the presence of “jobs and justice, food and freedom, land and liberation”. One of the lessons of our struggle against dictatorship is that a durable peace will be built only with the fullness of human rights and dignity.
On September 21, a day of ceasefire will be a moment marking our common commitment to building a just and sustainable peace.
WE SUPPORT THE PEACE PROCESSES. WE WANT A JUST AND LASTING PEACE. DECLARE CEASEFIRE ON PEACE DAY!
Generation Peace, Mindanao Solidarity Network, Peace Day Committee Waging Peace Philippines – GPPAC Southeast Asia
*If you wish to include your organization to our peace day ceasefire call, leave a comment below.
September 2012, Philippines–GenPeace spearheads localized celebrations of the International Day of Peace in the Philippines. Youth leaders and organizations take the lead in raising awareness on the country’s armed conflict, and challenging this generation to support peacebuilding initiatives. In a country with two 40-year old forgotten armed conflicts, the youth can be a potent force in bridging the peace gaps.
With the theme, “Just and Sustainable Peace for Our Future: Support the Peace Processes!”, GenPeace through its member-organizations, school partners, friends and communities, prepared numerous initiatives for the peace month of September.
September 21, apart from being the commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law 40 years ago, is also the UN-declared International Day of Peace, Ceasefire and Non-violence. The youth network aims to: 1) educate the public on the Peace Day, the issues and root causes of armed conflict in the Philippines; 2) promote participation and contribution from the young generation; 3) campaign for a 24-hour unilateral declaration of ceasefires, and; 4) gather broader support for the peace processes in the country.
GenPeace and its partner organizations have lined-up a month-long set of activities for September. Some of the plans are:
1. Simultaneous Peace Day Celebrations can provide the space for raising awareness that there is a global day of peace, ceasefire and non-violence. During this day, we join the rest of the world in aspiring for peace but also, concretely working towards that goal through education, communications and media, networking, policy advocacy, dialogues, and projects with conflict-affected localities.
- Cagayan Valley Region
- Quezon City
- Davao City
- Samar and Leyte
2. Ceasefire Campaign. We are asking the government and NDF and MILF to unilaterally declare ceasefires on 21 September. We are also part of global peace day ceasefire call.
3. LGU Engagement: Peace Day Resolutions/Ordinances
We are asking local governments to pass resolutions and/or ordinances supporting peace day and the peace day ceasefire, and to fully support the peace talks. We believe that localized declarations of support increases the chances for convergence at the local level–supporting the conflict-affected communities and the grassroots–where peacebuilding matters most.
We’re raising Php 200,000 for the nationwide activities of the youth network. Buy our cakes, 100% of proceeds will be for the month-long peace advocacy and education activities.
5. Campus Tours: Peace Forums. This will be the education campaign of GenPeace for the Peace Month and beyond. The forums target students from different universities and seek to update the youth on the peace talks, raise understanding of the conflict issues in the country, the primacy of the peace talks, and challenge the youth to become peace advocates.
We join the world in calling for a Global Day of Truce through localized unilateral ceasefire declarations of the government through its Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the National Democratic Front. Ceasefires are often construed as pacifist and a counter-insurgency measure, but we want to institutionalize the Peace Day Ceasefire nationwide and throughout the world. A day of ceasefire can give the people a day of respite from all the violence and take time to reflect on peace. Everyone can be nourished by a day of ceasefire as the longer struggle towards a just and sustainable peace continues thereafter.
Imagine a day of peace, a day where people reflect on peace both as a dream and a reality. Generation Peace Youth Network (GenPeace)—the nationwidest coming together of youth organizations, individuals and peaceniks—is working towards making the peace dream a reality. We believe in connecting, empowering and transforming the young generation as catalysts for peacebuilding. We believe in non-violent and creative solutions to the Bangsamoro armed conflict and the Communist insurgency. We believe that a just and lasting peace has hurdles but we can move from one milestone to another.
“You cannot eat a cake and have it. But you can eat a cake, and help promote softcore and hardcore youth peacebuilding” –Peace of Cake Monster
GenPeace calls for a peaceful, reflective and humane observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan. We show our solidarity to our Muslim brothers and sisters. We believe in unity and equality; we may be different but we are all equal in our inherent rights and dignity.
We–Muslim, Christian, Indigenous People, Filipino, Moro–members of the GenPeace Youth Network support the youth’s clamor for religious tolerance and diversity, equality and justice.
Support the non-violent resolution of the armed conflicts! Peace in MindaNOW!
Members of the National Board had assessed the activities in accordance to their alignment with GenPeace core thrusts. The members had closely examined the work of GenPeace and said that the projects had triumphantly inculcated the value of peace consciousness especially among the youth. They recognized the network’s efforts to initiate Peace Education programs among localities particularly in the South. More so, they have said that through the different activities and projects of the network, the youth became more deeply involved in the activities concerning peace. They also applauded the region-wide connections established by the network linking all youths from different regions to work for the cause of peace. They have also stated that due to the engagement of GenPeace programs in their localities, the programs of their organizations had been more peace – focused and the youth were more empowered and their passion for peace was reawakened.
Ed Garcia, one of our esteemed GenPeace mentors, also known as ‘Master Yoda’ is not just inspiring GenPeace Youth network. In fact, he has mentored and inspired countless peace advocates from all walks of life. Below is Peter Perfecto’s article published by PDI. –Editors Note
One mentor in my life who probably most influenced my decisions in taking roads less travelled is Ed Garcia. Ed has always championed peace and human rights not only in the Philippines but across the globe, having worked extensively with Amnesty International and having been a part of International Alert for many years now. Though based in London, Ed manages to return to the Philippines regularly to help push our peace process forward even just one little step at a time. He never tires of the effort, always reminding me that peace is everyone’s business.
During his last visit to the Philippines, Ed stayed for over three months to meet various stakeholders in the peace process, help organize the Waging Peace in the Philippines Conference 2011, and even get a small group that included next-generation youth peace leaders to dialogue via Skype technology with a leader of one of the parties in our decades-old conflict. That was Ed’s other consistent message to those who would listen: Keep the dialogue always going and make sure the youth are always part of that dialogue. He, of course, made sure to seek me as the representative of the constructive voice of business on national issues, the Makati Business Club (MBC). He understandably wanted MBC to make the peace process its business, too, and subsequently help get more of the private sector involved.
I most certainly agree with Ed that business groups need to become part of the peace process. The private sector has been both bane and boon to the peace process. In line with the continuing evolution of corporate social responsibility, however, it must become part of the solution and not one of the roots of the conflict. The private sector must become genuine nation-builders and, subsequently, effective peace-builders.
In a 2011 National Caucus on conflict-sensitive business practice, International Alert (IA) explained that “the entry of extractive, energy, and agribusiness companies in rural areas across the Philippines creates both opportunities and risks for improving the living standards of the poor and excluded in our society and the ability of local authorities to govern local economies.” Some of the opportunities highlighted were new jobs, new skills and new livelihoods, as well as enhanced revenue sources for local government units. IA further explained that “there are liability risks that resonate in the eruption of violence and conflict in the areas where companies operate; the increased incidence of illegal ejection or displacement of communities; the inducement of graft and corruption; and the use of abusive security forces and the provision of the means to kill.” The private sector must work to enhance the opportunities and aggressively act to mitigate the risks.
To link arms with the various peace advocates, business can support the following Easter Proposals to Wage Peace that can serve as the first steps leading to the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF):
1. Easter Talks: Convene facilitated direct talks (or “nontalks”) between the respective chairs of the negotiating panels in the period of Easter (or before) to ensure that conditions are established for the resumption of formal peace negotiations.
2. Easter Releases: Release at least four or five people relevant to the peace process who will somehow be “a collective force for good” in assisting in the discussions on the substantive issues on the agenda of the peace talks. Accept the offer of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform and other civic and religious leaders to receive those released either in cognizance or to provide safe conduct for a temporary stay abroad.
3. Easter Pause: In the spirit of Easter and in the spirit of magnanimity and reciprocity, desist from armed offensives during the period of the talks. The duration and terms of reference of this initial Easter Pause may be negotiated as the talks progress. Establish independent capacities to more effectively verify violations both of human rights and of the provisional truce that has arisen from this Easter opportunity.
The Waging Peace Convenors led by the likes of Ed Garcia, Karen Tañada and Gus Miclat made these proposals last Feb. 27 during the commemoration of the late Sen. Jose W. Diokno’s death anniversary. They called on the government and the NDF to “negotiate a political settlement and pay tribute to the late Ka Pepe Diokno who lived and worked to build a nation worthy of our children.”
The business sector may not be ready to fully support the above calls, but I am certain that a just and lasting peace makes good business sense to all in the sector.
Last Jan. 20, the Eisenhower Fellows Association of the Philippines sponsored a forum on business opportunities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Amidst the conflict, business opportunities were highlighted and the challenges discussed. While conflict seems to not have prevented private investments in Mindanao, the continuing security and land access problems have been key constraints to urgently needed investments. Companies like La Frutera, Dole Philippines Fruits, ArDex Corp., Sumitomo, Mega Sardines, Shemberg, Agumil, Filipinas, Bj Coco Mill, Granexport and NorMin Veggies are successfully operating in conflict areas in Mindanao. More will most certainly venture into the region if the peace process would just reach a final political settlement. But that will only happen if we all make peace our business.
Peter Angelo V. Perfecto is the executive director of the Makati Business Club.