Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

PEACE in Mindanaw Academy (PMA)

First Privilege Speech of Rep. Ariel C. Hernandez
May 18, 2009, House of Representatives

Mr. Speaker, Maayong Hapon! Maayad na hapon! Assalamu Alaikum! Peace be with you all!

First, let me express my personal gratitude for the warm welcome you bestowed upon us when we took our oath as new legislators in the house of the people. As the newly installed representative of our party Anak Mindanaw, I have been given the opportunity to join this august body that defines the future of this country. Thus, I would like to maximize my time and humble expertise to bring about long term and sustainable programs for our beloved yet troubled region of Mindanaw.

Anak Mindanaw would like to call on this house of the people not to forget the aspiration, dreams and fears of the tri-people of Mindanaw. In the heated discussion in the plenary on urgent bills of Charter Change, CARPER and other bills, I would like to put on record that Anak Mindanaw would like to introduce a legislation that will highlight the role of Mindanaw as a center of gravity of all peacebuilding initiatives of the country and even of the Asian region. Whereas before and even up to now, Mindanaw has been highlighted by the national and international press because of its mismanaged conflicts that resulted to wars every two to three years, terroristic activities every now and then, not to mention kidnappings that put the island in a very bad light … Anak Mindanaw is committed to proactively change this national and international perception, not by propaganda but by hard work and by running meaningful and relevant programs for the tripeople of Mindanaw.

Specifically, Mr. Speaker, this humble representation, molded by the institutional wisdom of Balay Mindanaw, which has been actively working for peace in Mindanaw these past years, and guided by Cong. Mujiv Hataman, is proposing for the establishment of Peace in Mindanaw Academy (PMA). If war and unpeace have dominated the picture of our beloved island over the last 5 decades, Anak Mindanaw believes that by setting up a PMA, our beloved region of Mindanaw will be known as the center of gravity of all peace education and peace building initiatives not only in Mindanaw and in the country but also in the Asian Region. While Anak Mindanaw acknowledges and supports the ongoing peace processes that tackle historical injustice, political marginalization and economic disparity, Anak Mindanaw adopts the new parallel mindset of the party that aims to set up institutions that are proactive, sustainable and, most of all, owned by stakeholders of peace in Mindanaw, in the country and in the Asian region. We need not wait for peace negotiations to arrive at political settlement and signed peace agreements. We can set up institutions like PMA to strengthen and maybe hasten the ongoing peace processes in Mindanaw, in the country and in the Asian Region, by a combination of academic inputs, field-based learning and community-based initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, the PMA will have the following distinct characteristics:

1. It will be a premiere education center for peace in the country and the Asian region. I specifically highlight the Asian Region as the bigger arena of Peace in Mindanaw Academy because of the ongoing mismanaged conflicts in the region, namely, Sri Lanka, parts of Indonesia, and East Timor. Rather than seeking help from these countries, we might even be able to provide help for them.

2. The curriculum and education program will be designed by CHED, OPAPP, Defense Department, the civil society, and the Church, which are all actively involved in Peacebuilding in Mindanaw, in the country and the Asian region.

3. The target clientele of the academy will be the state and non-state security sector, the local government units, the business sector, the different churches and denominations and the civil society and the lawmakers from Mindanaw, the Philippines and the Asian region.

4. The PMA is envisioned to offer full courses on conflict management and peacebuilding, peace negotiations, transitional and restorative justice and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR).

Mr. Speaker, with your support, and with the support of the members of this house, the PMA will usher a new dawn for Peacebuilding in Mindanaw. I have great faith in the constituency of the house of the people; the state and non-state combatants; the LGUs which do not anymore see conflicts as things to avoid but rather as an integral challenge for local development; the Church, which brings peace building into action rather than as mere words spoken in the pulpit; the academe, which has transcended the four walls of the schools; and the national and international peace constituency.

This proposal will remain relevant in the years to come and this 14th Congress will proudly look at this institution as a source of pride for Mindanawans, Filipinos and Asians alike.

Daghan salamat Mr. Speaker…