PEACETALK. Let not the tragic Mamasapano incident be a hindrance to attaining peace

(Welcome Remarks of Jerry Orcullo, President of Cagayan de Oro Press Club during the Media Roundtable on the Bangsamoro Basic Law Roundtable, Pearlmont Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City, 21 February 2015. This piece was read for Mr. Orcullo by Allan Mediante, editor in chief of the Mindanao Daily News, with Orcullo beside him)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 21 February) — This Roundtable discussion among media practitioners on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is timely. It will help clear the issues that have been passionately discussed in all media venues. That our City and the Cagayan de Oro Press Club are chosen to host this discussion is most welcome.

We are left with two options; war or pursue the peace process. We choose the latter and urge the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to continue talking even if it only means buying us more time and preventing another outbreak of hostilities in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

We also appeal to our fellow citizens not to allow themselves to get carried away or pin the blame on all the Muslim Filipinos. Needless to say, that attitude is unreasonable and offensive.

We are appealing to governmental and MILF decision makers to be guided by reason and talk about sensible matters for our common dreams for peace. Let not the tragic Mamasapano incident be a hindrance to attaining peace. Let it instead be a lesson to all parties that handling conflicts is sourced out from sincere hearts and clean conscience. Sincerity is the key.

All endeavors have had many hurdles. Let us not stop surmounting difficulties, and never shall we go back to square one when even in conceptualizing peace talks it is already equated to impossibility.

Now, the peace process is moving on and this roundtable discussion is part of it.

Peace isn’t easy to achieve, it is fought. Yes, it is fought but not through bullets anymore as it is an obsolete way of resolving conflicts – but through reasonable dialogues and debates.

Mahirap ang giyera, walang mananalo, lahat ay talo. It produces widows and orphans, destroys communities and ruins the future.

I speak with authority because as early as 17 years old, napasabak na ako sa encuentero in 1972 sa bukirin ng Matanao, Davao del Sur. Nang itinayo ang unang yunit ng Bagong Hukbo ng Bayan sa Mindanao, ni-raid kami ng mga elements of the Philippine Constabulary at napasubo sa bakbakan na nag-iwan ng dalawa naming kasamahang namatay. One was an outstanding student of the Holy Cross of Digos and the other a public school teacher of the neighboring Bansalan town.

In 1982, napasubo na naman ako sa barilan sa Davao City and the slug of an unknown caliber is still embedded in the lower lobe of my right lung.

In 1984, my brother was killed infront of his wife and 2-year old son. Journalist po yon at kilala ninyo siya. Si Alex Orcullo po ang tinutukoy ko. He was killed at a young age of 38.

Wala naman talagang patutunguhan ang labanang armado. Why can’t we talk with our tongues instead of through the barrel of the guns? Jesus Christ said, “Come, join me, let us be fishers of men. Now, Fishers for Peace!

My friends, there is no substitute to peaceful resolution of conflicts. Para sa Diyos, sa Bayan, sa Sambayanan, isusulong natin ang usaping pangkapayapaan. Let’s move on.

Thank you very much. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Peacetalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her piece on peace in Mindanao)