Army Aims for Peace 'Sans Guns'

Article excerpt

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - In an effort to advance an alternative mode of achieving peace, a military brigade spearheaded the launching here of the first-ever "Building Partnership: Pro-Peace, Pro-People Campaign to Win Peace" program, advocating for all peace stakeholders to go back to the basics without the usual military offensives.Dozens of stakeholder organizations including local and national officials participated in the day-long program, which kicked off with speakers' statements of commitment and signing of agreements among leading peace advocates and stakeholders.Program organizers led by Army Brig. Gen. Ernesto Aradanas, head of the Maguindanao-based 603rd Infantry Brigade (IB), forged various agreements with civilian partner groups and civilian officials led by Rep. Simeon A. Datumanong (2nd District, Maguindanao), the country's most senior Muslim official involved in most peace initiatives since three decades ago.In his keynote speech, Datumanong recalled how peace efforts began in early 70's where he had personally helped open channels with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leading to the signing of the Final Peace Accord of 1996 brokered by the powerful Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)."Peace efforts are multi-faceted and I appreciate very much this initiative coming from no less than the once dreaded military organization," stressed Datumanong.He said the paradigm shift in the military activities could bolster the civil sectors' campaign for a peaceful settlement of the lingering Mindanao conflict.In his response message, Aradanas lauded the men in uniform for their support to the peaceful and basic mode of achieving peace in this part of the country. …