DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 July) — CHANGING OF GUARDS. On my way to Davao del Sur last Tuesday, I dropped by at the Army headquarters of the 39th battalion in Tuban, Sta Cruz for the turnover of command from Lt. Col. Oliver Artuz to new commander Lt. Col. Norman Zuniega who served distinctively in North Cotabato during those challenging days.
GENERAL BERNARDO. “The peace and development framework will be the guiding post of every soldier,” Brig. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, the officiating commander who also recently assumed at the 10th infantry division gave as his command guidance to the AFP men and women.
I was not surprised as I knew General Ariel’s orientation as he was, for a long time, part of the peace process team with me and served in the ceasefire committee that kept the peace while negotiations were going on between rebels and the government in Mindanao.
PEACE PARADIGM. By the way, the new AFP paradigm no longer exclusively measures a combat officer’s stellar accomplishments by body count of dead enemies or firearms recovered in combat. But today, it is best measured by how they manage to keep the peace in their respective areas of responsibility. Pulling that trigger and starting a firefight is much easier than maintaining the equilibrium of peace by avoiding combat. Firing the guns of war is much easier than the complicated — and creative task — of peacekeeping and peace building. And fine soldiery is better measured by the latter.
FROM FVR. I received by parcel post a newly published book of former President Ramos entitled “Teamwork for Enduring Peace and Sustainable Development” put together by Melandrew “Mel” T. Velasco.
It chronicles FVR’s foray into the maze of peace building and development not only during his watch as president but beyond. This is one of the many he published and which I continuously receive without fail — from the mails. With his own red ink personalized scribblings, of course. Thanks, Mr. President!
EDUCATORS. Last week , I spoke before officials of Mindanao’s COCOPEA ( Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations) during their two-day strategic planning session. They compose universities and colleges all over Mindanao. I was glad to visit the venue: the plush facilities of the Davao Association of Colleges and Schools (DACS) at Juna Subdivision in Matina with hosts Fr. Danny Montana , COCOPEA Mindanao and Jimmie-Loe dela Vega, Executive Director.
There is resonance from the participants on aligning their thrusts to Mindanao’s challenges like poverty, conflict, information technology gap, values and peace imperatives and others.
MORO TALES. During the forum with the school reps, there was a discussion that we have to follow through on the effort to re-write Mindanao’s history and books to correct certain distortions that feed into the biases of people that further exacerbate the tensions caused by differences in ethnicity and creed. These materials are gobbled up by our young minds and of course, consequently affecting our view of things.
DISTORTIONS. I recall I was still a kid in the elementary grade in a barrio in the south memorizing my oratorical contest winning piece about a Moro “huramentado” and Kamlon, a Moro fighter. It was culled from a book on Mindanao and its people. That stuck to my young mind for a while although the fear and distrust about the Moros whipped up by the piece was assuaged by my being close friends with some Muslim classmates whom I grew up with in our barrio. I wonder how it was with those who had no contact at all with them and knew them only through the written materials they read.
These undue biases feed into the psyche of the unknowing, spawning distrust, animosity and eventually graduating to conflict. Some are carried over to this day.
We have to exorcise such distortions.
MARKING DEFEATS. Many may not realize this but we tend to celebrate our defeats. Like Fall of Bataan, Fall of Corregidor, Fall of Tirad Pass, etc. Should we not commemorate more our victories?
Also, remember the international TV CNN’s Hero of the Year? The Pinoy awardee, truly deserving he may be, projected the Philippines to the whole world in this hi-tech modern age as still in the “kariton” era in our education. Correct honor but wrong message, wrong visuals. All at the expense of our education sector that’s keeping pace with new technologies.
CHARTER CHANGE. I smell something is afoot on this move to amend the Philippine constitution. The way Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Senate President Johnny Enrile frame their statements about “convincing” President Aquino and the way Malacanang responds, you can bet on it: charter change is just around the corner.
Factor in the recent statements coming out of the recent GPH-MILF talks in Malaysia and my sense is that an “incremental gain” has been achieved.
This gives me more confidence that the impending peace agreement with the MILF and its entrenchment in the Philippine constitution, “piggy back” style, is something to expect.
ROTARY. I spoke last Friday night before the Rotary Club of Sta Ana Davao during its induction rites for the new officers headed by Pres. Manuel “Jun” Villarias, Jr., a “returnee” president. A reunion of sorts with elder Rotarians who are in their 80’s or so made us reminisce the days of yore. And they are still around committed to Rotary’s current call for “PEACE THROUGH SERVICE” District 386 Governor Nominee Remegio “Boy” Salanatin, Jr. ( 2014), covering some parts of Visayas and Mindanao, belongs to RC Sta Ana. Congratulations Rotarians “Jun” and “Boy.” (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Jesus G. Dureza, former Presidential Adviser on Mindanao and on the Peace Process, is now publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times).