Peace Bell rings, doves fly as 4th Peace Month celebration begins
MANILA (5 September) -- Monday's ceremonial ringing of the historic bell at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City and the releasing of white doves as universal symbols of peace highlighted the start of the nationwide celebration of the 2007 National Peace Consciousness Month.
Secretary Jesus Dureza as National Peace Adviser together with his deputy at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Undersecretary Nabil Tan, led the kick-off commemoration of the 4th Peace Month for this September.
In her message, President Gloria Arroyo said September always holds several milestones in the nation's sustained and determined pursuit of the comprehensive peace process, adding that the month has been marked by historic peace accords spelling the life and future for many Filipinos.
"This is the time of the year when we, as a nation, come together, underscore and demonstrate the spirit of cultural understanding, religious and ethnic tolerance, interfaith dialogue, citizen solidarity, and patriotic fervor," President Arroyo said in her message.
Sec. Dureza meanwhile revealed that the underlying theme for this year's activity would focus on the youth and their future as stakeholders of peace-building, as he encouraged all Filipinos to stake their individual ownership on the overall peace process.
For his part, Usec. Tan explained that the 2007 Peace Month has never been this timely with the recent issuance of an Administrative Order for humanitarian and relief efforts in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu as well as in other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Citing the Health, Education, Livelihood Progress (HELP) program primarily in Southwestern Mindanao, he expressed optimism on the progress of the two provinces into becoming laboratories for economic development.
President Arroyo earlier issued A.O. No. 192 for a "humanitarian invasion" in the Southern Philippines packaged with projects involving the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help the people market their products at better prices, the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to build solar-powered science labs, DepEd and ARMM to build and repair more schools and gather more support for teachers, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to offer additional scholarship slots for more Tausug doctors.
Usec. Tan also revealed Monday that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will finish the circumferential road in Isabela City in Basilan as well as other road projects in the ARMM, and also finish the American-donated bridge in Bongao town in Tawi-tawi province.
On the youth, President Arroyo lauded and welcomed their active participation in peace-building, adding that this sector has always been "an important component of a national peace constituency that works to keep the torch of peace burning."
She said the observance of the 2007 Peace Month, with its theme of "Para sa Kabataan at Kinabukasan: Kapayapaan, Atin 'To!," affords the youth of this nation "the opportunity to preserve the gains of the peace process and to take stock in building a peaceful and progressive society."
The President added: "By combining fresh ideas and dynamism, there is much that our youth can contribute in helping build consensus and in establishing ownership of the peace process among our people, through continuing engagements in stakeholder consultations and dialogues."
Further, the President expressed hopes that 4th Peace Month would "provide the platform for reflection and dialogue, for bridging differences and heightening commonalities, and for promoting a culture of peace that will lead to a stronger nation for our present and future generations."
The Chief Executive said her administration, in spite of the many hurdles besetting the path to peace, will always be "firmly committed to uphold the primacy of the peace process and to pursue a paradigm for peace, where a broad-based coalition of nations are working hand-in-hand... in confidence-building measures anchored on strong interfaith dialogue, cultural awareness, and investments in human development." (OPAPP/PIA) [top]