Total solutions to half-understood problems

Philippine statement delivered by H.E. Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., Permanent Representative, Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations, on September 5, 2018, at the High-Level Forum on a Culture of Peace Opening Session and Plenary Segment—General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters, New York.

“Mr. President,

‘THE Philippines commends the President of the General Assembly for convening today’s High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace. Without forgetting that the UN’s first task is to mend the peace where it is broken and restore it when it is altogether lost, the task of preventing conflict is what this forum addresses. It echoes the new peace and development road map for our own Bangsamoro Peace Process.

‘This is characterized by the inclusion of all people living in the Muslim autonomous region—not just the Muslim majority but Christians and indigenous—by continuing dialogue not hectoring monologue; by confidence-building in all stakeholders and not just the politically connected; and the self-confidence of the Christian majority—so rare in other conflicts —to acknowledge the self-identity of our Muslim brothers and sisters as Bangsamoro.

“Our peace process is anchored on the Duterte administration’s 6-Point Peace and Development Agenda, which provides for the meaningful implementation of the agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front towards healing in the Bangsamoro; and completing the implementation of remaining commitments under the Moro National Liberation Peace Agreement to remove the last trace of acrimony.

“It is also guided by the President’s directive to ensure the inclusivity and convergence of the two peace agreements with the MNLF and MILF into one Bangsamoro Peace Process. We are not addressing the most recent conflict at the expense of the one that started it all and which expired from exhaustion battling a US-backed dictatorship.

“Our end is the reaffirmation of the pledge that one’s word is one’s bond. It is worse to break your word with enemies than with friends. This bond is more important between states and between governments and insurgents, than between individuals who will just walk away from each other; while betrayal redoubles the hatred and sanguinary resolve between combatants.

“For Filipinos, promoting a culture of peace is a natural. We have been victims of atrocities in two wars—the first time in the independence we fought for and achieved; which was taken from us by avowed friends of freedom. The second time in a more unlikely scheme to share with the conquered the prosperity of the conqueror’s empire at the point of a samurai sword. “But we never committed mass atrocities no matter the provocation. There is something in the temper of my race that recoils from excess. Most recently, after a successful revolution, we moved on, former friends and enemies, and never looked back in anger.

“The Philippines never adopted war to teach a lesson, not even internally where the state has the preponderance of power; nor for revenge; but always as a last resort to stop a widening conflict—but always by the most discriminating application of force. We shy away from total solutions to half-understood problems except in the drug war. We tried everything else before now.

“Since 2004 we have cosponsored the GA resolution promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Differences of views may not be worth the cost of fighting over them; and if you’re sure of the verity of your cause, it should make everyone free and not just you the victor. General Assemby President Miroslav Lajcak is right: truth is the daughter of time; and time will reveal whose side was the better one. Untiring patience will show it; impulsive power buries it deeper in the rubble. 

“In the spirit of inclusivity, in the desire for the widest participation, and in the hope of the closest convergence, we want our Bangsamoro people, along with the larger Filipino community, to take ownership of peacebuilding. It’s all our peace; none of it imposed; all of it willingly undertaken. Last week there were bombing attacks in the Bangsamoro. You can’t please everybody. But they will come around. Thank you.”


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He is the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations.


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