Commentary: A new peace paradigm
By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu, Philippines (11 September) -- "When there is an infringement to peace and our democratic processes, we too will fight back to repel the incursion of insurgency and terrorism until they never have a place to hide. But we don't employ terror we employ all means available within the arsenals of democracy to defeat insurgency and terrorism. Economic development remains our weapon and education our tool for enlightened radicalism and when there is a continuous infringement to peace, government will be tough and relentless."
Those were the remarks of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in response to the Bohol declaration that was presented to her during the closing ceremony of the first Local Peace and Security Assembly held in Tagbilaran City recently.
The President said, to permanently eradicate insurgency at the countryside, government must "willed a paradigm of peace," a confidence building measures that combine the soft power of development and the hard power of the military.
This is working well in Mindanao, she said during her latest visit to Davao from a direct flight from Sidney, Australia. Arroyo also revealed that despite the all-out military offensive against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, there has been no report of civilian casualty.
She explained that the government's total war against the Abu Sayyaf constitutes the "hard power" component of the new paradigm, while the soft approach pertains to the government's consolidated operation to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed during the military-Abu Sayyaf confrontations.
"Turn guns into plowshares," she urged the rebels as she also reiterated the government's commitment to go back to the negotiating table as the government continues to look for a peace formula that would bring lasting peace to the countryside. (PIA-7) [top]