By: Jan Mikko Canarias with some reports with Maryam Ross Embalsado
Photos by: Jan Mikko Canarias
Transforming Conflict and Building Peace towards Security Sector Reform: an opinion or a policy?
Davao City — Ateneo de Davao University once again invited Secretary Norberto Gonzales in a Forum held at the Ateneo Amphitheater, February 19,2010. The theme is ‘Transforming Conflict and Building Peace towards Security Sector Reform: an opinion or a policy?.Anchorwoman, Ms. Tina Monzon-Palma of the ABS-CBN News Channel, is also invited to be the host of the event. Invited as member of the panel are Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Department of National Defense; Lt. General Raymundo B. Ferrer, AFP, Chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command; and Congressman Ariel C. Hernandez, Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party List Representative. There are also invited reactors from both AFP and Civil Society Groups. The forum will be telecast at the ANC Channel.
“We do not have Peace building subjects in our curriculum”
All of the members of the AFP that had spoken during the forum confirmed that they haven’t been taught of Peace Building inside the four walls of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). Tina Monzom-Palma has raised her voice saying “NO?!” when Ferrer said that the PMA doesn’t have Peace Building related courses in their curriculum.
War is one method to attain Peace. I asked two Colonels in an interview why do they engage in war even if in fact they haven’t been taught of peace when they are still studying inside the walls of PMA. The Colonels both said that they were civilian officers before they got into the military. But they were aware that the PMA has no subject about peace building.– So why do they engage in war? One Colonel said, they engage in war because some groups wanted war. Merely they engage in war not to attain peace because they are called to do so. War is risky and in fact it is very costly. In the walls of PMA, students were only taught of combat but never about peace, it is only for some time that there will be a seminar about peace building that they will have a chance to be invited and join, and that will only be the time they will know about it. But they have never practiced how to do peace building inside the academy at all.
Army’s orientation towards peace building were more on of what they called civil military methods. Civil military methods is the term used by the military on doing their humanitarian projects. Ferrer said that they do humanitarian projects as way of Peace Building. In the past years, Ferrer have worked with Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc to help the military understand the importance of Peace building as an alter method of attaining peace.
Understanding Mindanao Conflict and Peace Building
Mindanao is an island of different religions and diverse cultures. Because of these indifference there is war in the island. According to Prof. Rudy Rodil, Historian, former GRP Panel Vice Chair (GRP-MILF Peace Process) and Faculty of OPERATION PEACE COURSE, “to understand the conflict, we should be tracing back history and not start at the middle of it”. The roots of the Moro and Christian conflict started way back the first Spanish colonization in the country.
The formation of MNLF and CPP made the Conflict bigger according to Secretary Gonzales. But the secretary confidently confirmed that the CPP-NPA, MNLF, MILF and Terrorists today is already out numbered, if there are combats it is only minimal. He also added that armed struggle in the 21st century is not suitable anymore. Because war is not easy to sustain, especially it is costly both in money and human resources, the AFP is making new methods of solving the conflict in Mindanao and throughout the Philippines. One of their methods is training of Military forces for Peace Building projects for conflict areas.
Prof. Rudy Rodil relate Peace building with Physics and Psychology. In Physics it is taught that energy cannot be destroyed, while in Psychology it is taught that energy can be transformed. With these principles, he related that bad energy, the conflict, if not destroyed will be transformed to good energy by means of peace building. “Pagod na tayo sa conflict energy… we should be thinking of positive trans formative energy” Congressman Ariel Hernandez said.
Rodil also added that we should get out from the cycle of violence. The cycle of violence is also the conflict.
AFP Faces National Issues
I had a chance to asked questions on some AFP personnel about some present issues that involve the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I have interviewed A Lt. Colonel, a Colonel, and Lt. General Ferrer. ( The two Colonels wished that their names will not be written due to some opinions that they have raised).
What is the reason why the AFP have delayed the turning over of the arrested 43 health workers to the Supreme Court?
According to one of the Colonels interviewed, it is because of the geographical and security reasons that may have caused the delay of the turning over. The 2nd Infantry Division may have issues on security upon transporting the 43 arrested health workers to the court in Quezon City. The NPA might have an ambush during the transporting of the 43 arrested. I asked why not use the aerial vehicles in transporting. He answered that it is very costly to use the aerial method of transporting. There are 43 of them and it takes 1 army to escort 1 detainee. So that means that they will transport 86 people using the 2 choppers assigned per infantry division.
Ferrer said that the 2nd ID wasn’t prepared and was overwhelmed with the number of detainees. “Mahirap mag move ng 43, walang bus ang military (It is hard to move 43 people, the military does not have buses) “he added.
Warlord-ism and Unregistered Firearms
According to the Colonels, there is already a plan of destabilizing the private armies, not just in Mindanao but all over the Philippines. “Meron na at kasali nga ang mga Ampatuan sa listahan kaso close sila ng presidente kaya hindi agad sila ang inuna” said one Colonel.
When I asked them about the number of firearms unregistered, there is a big difference with the answer of the Man in Office, Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and the Men in Field. According to Secretary Gonzales there is 500,000 or more or less half a million unregistered firearms at loose. But when we asked the two Colonels, they have given us 1200% higher than that of the secretaries number. The Colonels revealed at first 6million loose fire arms, but when we said Secretary Gonzales said only half million they reduced the number from 6million down to half, 3million; but still that is 600% bigger than the number given by the secretary. When we asked General Ferrer, he said there are more than 3700 unregistered and he is not sure about the loose firearms yet.