SOUTHERN COMFORT: Peace more than ever

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 October) — Two more troubling incidents in Mindanao last week made the quest for just and lasting peace in the island all the more important.

We need to put a stop to all the violence around us.  We need to save the lives of combatants as well as others who are getting caught in this vicious cycle of mayhem and murder.

We need not tell the story of the orphans, widows and grieving mothers who lost their loved ones in Basilan last week all in the name of war for peace.  We need not fell another tree to carve out yet another coffin for one more missionary who will spend the next three decades of his life helping indigenous peoples in remote villages only to be gunned down by forces of war.

Anybody who has seen the ugly face of the conflict in Mindanao knows what grief is all about.
And everybody who has seen the war tear apart kinship and friendship knows this isn’t going anywhere if one’s meaning of peace is wiping out the protagonists of the conflict.

Shame on them who are again suggesting we embark on a mission to wipe out the Moro rebels who staged an ambush that led to the death of 19 soldiers, four of them young officers, in Basilan last week.

Woe to them who jumped with joy at the sight of former President Joseph Estrada urging all out war against the rebels who ambushed the soldiers in the manner he did when he was the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

And shame on those who ordered the killing of Italian missionary Fr. Faustino Tentorio all in the name of peace.

Now more than ever, we need to bring together the contending forces of the conflicts in Mindanao to the peace table.

Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to find a just and lasting solution to these conflicts.

Now, more than ever, we need to talk peace instead of wage more wars of attrition.

We have seen four decades of these conflicts and we have used all means to conquer our perceived enemies.

But after countless deaths throughout these years, we have not come closer to peace because many among us find meaning in peace as the annihilation of forces that are driven to wage wars.

We have to eliminate the reason why they take arms.  The raison d’ etre why they are waging wars.

True, the only peace that endures is the one you are ready to defend and make war for.

But how can you win a war with war when it is founded on injustice.

You cannot have lasting peace by waging an unjust war.

To paraphrase, the only lasting peace worth defending is one that is anchored on and brought by just wars. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for