MANILA — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has urged the military to use a “community-based approach” in peace-building.

“Fire the gun only when it is necessary. But keep it quiet when there is a way to peacefully engage them,” Dureza said in his speech during the 45th founding anniversary of the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division in Davao City.

Dureza advised state troops to give rebels a chance to reform their lives, referring to those who expressed desire to lay down their arms and live peacefully.

He said the main objective of the state security sector is not to engage insurgents in an armed battle, but “to accept them” and help them transition into mainstream society.

Dureza said he had adopted this mindset after President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered him to “talk across the tables” to find a long-lasting solution to the armed conflict in the country.

The OPAPP has established various “peace tables” aimed at providing a venue for stakeholders to discuss peace-related issues and come up with recommendations on how to best address them.

Dureza said although peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP have been cancelled, he remains hopeful that a peaceful settlement with the rebel group could still be achieved in the future.

“We will be waiting for the (time) when the environment will be conducive again for a settlement,” he added.

According to the presidential peace adviser, there is a need to use a “community-based approach” in dealing with the insurgency problem in the country.

During a recent visit he made in Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte to inaugurate a Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) bridge project, he was informed by tribal leaders that the event almost did not push through after they received threats from a rebel group operating there.

Dureza, however, said what he found most touching was the assurance made by the Lumad community to "protect" him from harm.

“Don’t worry, we will protect you,” one of the elders told him, as he pointed to village folks who were armed with native weapons.
From his conversations with them, Dureza said he could sense their strong desire to achieve peace and order and sustain the gains of economic growth in the community.

Dureza said he believes in the power of diplomacy in resolving situations of conflict.
He said that through diplomacy, he was able to effectively carry out peace talks with leaders of various rebels groups in the country.

“Use diplomacy,” Dureza told state troops, as he urged them to continue being agents of peace and development in the communities they serve. (PNA)