MINDANAO PEACE. Vice President Sara Z. Duterte believes it's “peace harvest” season in Mindanao as she addresses participants of the Kusog Mindanaw Conference 2022 Friday (Nov. 11, 2022).  She said Mindanao had been considerably quiet for quite a time following peace efforts initiated then by past administrations.  (Screengrab photo)

DAVAO CITY – Vice President Sara Z. Duterte said Friday that it is ‘peace harvest season’ in Mindanao since it had been considerably quiet for quite a time.

Speaking during the Kusog Mindanaw Conference 2022 here, she cited that while the government had to deal with radicalized groups behind terror attacks in Mindanao, including the bomb attack that killed civilians in this city in 2016 and the intensified military campaign against the New People’s Army, there has been no deployment of a big number of soldiers to Mindanao for a government-initiated all-out-war.

“We have been told that there’s a time for everything. I believe it’s ‘peace harvest season for us now in Mindanao,” Duterte said.

She took note of the peace initiatives in the southern Philippines by two late former presidents – Fidel V. Ramos and Benigno Aquino III.

Duterte cited the signing of the peace agreement initiated by the Ramos administration with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government under the administration of Aquino III in 2014.

“Both presidents are no longer with us, but I believe that some of those who worked with their Peace Doves continue the Mindanao peace advocacy works even today. After the signing of the peace agreement between the MILF and the Philippine government in 2014, there have been no major wars in Mindanao,” Duterte said.

She added that Mindanao has been relatively silent even during her father’s administration, with the exemption of the foiled siege of Marawi City.

“The seeds of peace that you have planted all these years, the seeds of peace watered by the blood of Filipino martyrs who fought against each other, the seeds of peace nurtured by your sacrifices and bravery and that undying fire I see in your eyes — they have grown and their flowers now in bloom,” Duterte added.

She also lauded the contribution of the Kusog Mindanaw for spearheading the gathering of peace advocates, former combatants, government officials, private organizations, grassroots representatives, civil society groups, and international organizations supportive of the Mindanao Agenda.

“Over the years, Kusog Mindanaw and its partners provided the country and the international community with a platform to look at Mindanao from the perspective of the Mindanaoans, highlighting the struggle for recognition of the Moro and Lumad rights over their lands and territories, the longing for peace and the end of wars, or the dream of experiencing meaningful development and progress,” Duterte added.

She also urged the Mindanaoans to have collective attention to maintaining peace in Mindanao which should remain to be on top of the Mindanao agenda.

“If ignored, a terror group’s activity, although it might appear harmless on the surface, could explode into something deadly — and may reduce a proud city into decay. War in Mindanao should be remembered only to remind us of why we should all work together and commit, protect, and defend peace at all costs,” she added.

“You have all the reasons to be proud of the tremendous job that you have done for Mindanao and your fellow Mindanaoans,” Duterte said. (PNA)