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Speeches at the Plenary Session by Panfilo M. Lacson, Senator of the Philippines


 

Panfilo M. Lacson

Senator of the Philippines

 

To all the honorable officers and members of the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, distinguished delegates and leaders, good day to all of you.

I am honored to represent the Republic of the Philippines in this year’s Commemoration of the International day of Peace as we highlight sustainable peace as the channel towards a sustainable future.

This gathering instantly reminds me of a Chinese proverb---“tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.”

Indeed, dialogue and goodwill between and among nations are two giant steps towards a peaceful co-existence. Conflicts can only bring us nowhere but doom and disaster. But these are not enough. The involvement of the parties concerned is one indispensable element in understanding each other’s concerns-hence, the attainment of genuine and lasting peace.

As a former law-enforcement officer for thirty years before getting elected as a lawmaker, I have always championed peace and order.

During my long stint in our country’s police force which I eventually headed as the chief of the Philippine national police more than a decade ago. I subscribed to the idea that many conflicts and crises can actually be resolved peacefully.

Now that I am a senator of our republic, I still cling to this belief. The theme of this great gathering of peace and disarmament advocates-“Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”- is most appropriate in this modern time in our history. The Philippine government stands at the threshold of a long pursued peace in our country.

Last September 14, 2012, my country’s chief executive, President Benigno S.C. Aquino Ⅲ, delivered a speech entitled ‘I am for peace’. He clearly pointed out that we are in the final steps of negotiations with a 42-year-old domestic conflict against the Moro Islamic liberation front, a Muslim secessionist group based in the southern region of the Philippines. Please indulge me to recite a portion of his speech.

“we want to change. All the initiatives are borne out of our desire for a ceasefire. We want an agreement. We want to end the cycle of violence, hopelessness, and poverty. Apart from peace, we want to assure future generations of good schools, clean hospitals, decent jobs, justice, fairness, a sense of respect for culture and history, and a chance for all.

No parent-whether Muslim, Lumad, or Christian, regardless of which side they belong to, or what ideology they subscribe to, and whether or not they believe in the government-wishes to raise their child in a country marred by armed conflict. If we truly wish to heal the wounds caused by bloody encounters and wars, and to erase the scars of uncertainty and doubt from society, then it is time to set aside disagreements based on ideology, belief, or religion.”

The other side of the peace coin is of course, disarmament.

Though true, the killings will only stop if “we beat our swords with ploughshares”--- as the great book says.

The most effective, albeit almost impossible way to attain peace is through disarmament. Without a shred of doubt, disarmament is a sure formula towards lasting peace. But what stands tall in the way is the question that nobody has an answer-who will disarm first?

To paraphrase martin Luther king, conflict anywhere, is a threat to peace everywhere.

With this fact, the need to embrace and preserve peace in our region could never be overemphasized. And the same goes among the great nations and institutions who bless this occasion with their presence indeed, peace is a win-win situation for everyone. This makes us all present in this forum stakeholders in the process of proliferating it. This gathering is a giant leap in reaching our common aspiration of sustainable peace.

True enough, the peace dividend is not only precious; it is priceless.

We must never forget that we are all Asians and once upon a time in a very distant past, our forefathers were connected by land bridges before they were separated by seas and oceans. We will always have peace in the region as we do not forget that in this part of the world, we all belong to each other.

My good neighbors, friends, and partners, let us preserve peace among our nations. Let us empower each other and continue to progress together. By combining our efforts, we can achieve the greatest success ever done in the history of man---a sustainable future for everyone.

Thank you very much.