PEACETALK: Our shared aspirations for Peace

(Opening statements of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. at the third round of the GRP-NDF peace talks in Rome, Italy on 19 January 2017).

Thank you very much and good morning to everyone. To the Norwegian Government representatives and the facilitator who are here including the Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines, Ambassador Erik Forner, who is here with us, the CPP-NPA-NDF panel and the other key members of the panel of the Government of the Philippines and the team. Ladies and gentlemen, our guests, good morning!

It is with great honor and privilege that we open again today jointly the third round of our negotiations. We thank here immediately the international champion for peace, the Royal Government of Norway, for being with us and providing to us all the support.

We were able to meet up with His Holiness, the Pope yesterday and we’d like to share the papal blessings to everyone here, hoping that our shared aspirations for peace will not take long for everyone and that it would ultimately be for the good of the whole nation.

I had the privilege of inviting personally our Foreign Secretary Perfecto Jun Yasay to be with us. For many of you who may not know him and for those who have travelled from the Philippines to come here, he is mostly the one responsible for making all these travels possible as our Foreign Secretary. In this light may I share with him with the permission of everyone, my part of opening, making an opening statement and may I invite Secretary Jun Yasay to please say a few words.

SECRETARY YASAY: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Thank you very much Jess, I was not prepared to be here before you to even say or make any statement, I must confess that I came here to the city of Rome to attend to an official function primarily which was to meet with my counterpart the Foreign Minister of Italy, to engage him in bilateral talks yesterday and to sign a few agreements aimed at strengthening the relationship between our two countries.

But I must also confess that my trip has brought about the fulfillment of two of my top bucket list, one is to be able to meet Joma Sison and that is more than enough for me, to justify my trip to be here and that also justifies why I am dumbfounded and speechless, Joma thank you for this occasion of meeting with you.

I had look(ed) up to him and continue to look up to him even when I was still a young college student at the Central Philippine University in Iloilo City and we have a lot of mutual friends. I know Joma to be a very dedicated leader and Filipino who works greatly and singly for the welfare and benefit of the Filipino people. I know him and it is one of the reasons why I admire him most is because when he wants to get things done for the good of the country, he will be relentless and he will not end until that is done.

Number two on my bucket list is to be able to have an audience with the Pope yesterday and I handed over the letter of President Rodrigo Duterte to him. A letter of solicitation and greetings but I do recognize the significance of this event and the process that we’re going through today.

Despite of my presence, I know I could not add or retract from the importance of this event or even its outcome but I bring the hope, the faith and the confidence, not only of those who are here but of our Filipino people left behind and their longing for enduring and lasting peace. And of this if that faith, that hope, that trust, that confidence could somehow add to what we have here as our hope and our confidence that we would be having a lasting and enduring peace soon then that is worth of all of the travels and the difficulties and the struggles that we have made.

On my job as the Foreign Affairs Secretary, as Jess had mentioned to you earlier, was just to facilitate immediately and promptly the travel of those who play a very important role in this process and I’d like to say that this was the direct instructions of the President to me. This is the role that I play, please make sure that all of those who play an important role in the process, facilitate the issuance of the passports, and I am glad that I have not wavered on that.

Thank you very much Joma, Luis Jalandoni is here, one guy that I also admire, let me reiterate my strong belief and shared belief with what had been said by the good ambassador that dialogue is always important when things cannot be achieved, it is always important that we get to talk.

Let me also extend my personal gratitude of thanks to the Norway’s Government support and assistance to make this process possible. Thank you and good luck to all of us!