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PIA Press Release

Commentary: Waging an all-out peace in Mindanao

Tacloban City (August 25) -- As the country celebrates today the National Heroes Day, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to attend the wake in Iloilo, of Lt. Col. Angelo Benitez, the highest ranking military official killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on August 18.

What could be more fitting than the President consoling the fallen officer's grieving family and honoring his heroism in Mindanao.. Lt. Col. Benitez' untimely death is a manifestation of the stark, dreadful and inescapable fact of war. Shall we put an end to the Filipino race; or shall we all renounce war?

Although the government is mourning because of its fallen soldiers, the Arroyo Administration has declared that it is not waging an all-out war in Mindanao; instead, it is waging an all-out peace in the Region.

Indeed, peace is the only battle worth waging. Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding that peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. It comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship as Filipinos, their oneness as a people, and when they realize that at the center of them all dwells the Great God and that this center is really everywhere, within each and every man.

There can be no peace without law, and so the MILF leadership must show its sincerity in the peace negotiations by turning over the three historically recalcitrant commanders into the folds of the law so that they will not be able to continue their violent acts.

The treacherous manner by which the MILF commanders and their men killed innocent civilians and peace-keeping government forces is an urgent call that there is no time left for anything but to make peace work a dimension of every waking activity.

It is hoped that the fallen government forces have found peace. Peace, after all, comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. It is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.

As the country celebrates the National Heroes Day today, Lt. Col. Benitez and the fallen government forces will be remembered because they have shown that there is no duty more important than ensuring that the rights of the Filipinos are respected, their welfare protected, that their lives are free from fear and that they live and grow up/old in peace. (PIA 8) [top]

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