Letter to the Editor
January 14, 2011
On the very first day of the year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched its new counter insurgency plan called Bayanihan purportedly to end armed resistance in the country within the six-year term of President Noynoy Aquino. It claimed that such oplan is far different from the previous campaign for it is more focused on civil-military works instead of combat operations. Bayanihan will use the so called two-pronged approach which is “whole nation” and “people centered” respectively.
Along with this announcement is the launching of what is called “peace” advocacy campaign. Public and private organizations including church people are enjoined to participate in this campaign. It will offer different activities and services from forum to cycling to medical missions, free haircut and free circumcision. All of these are in the name of ending the armed resistance in the country.
With this new anti-insurgency campaign, the Aquino government and its military department are hoping that dissidents will lay down their arms and will join mainstream society.
What President Aquino, his military advisers and those claiming to be civil society groups try to disregard are the facts that armed conflicts are symptoms of greater societal problems. In the Philippine setting, stark poverty and wide inequality between the few rich and the vast poor are realities rooted in landlessness, foreign domination and business-like governance. These realities need to be urgently addressed before there can be peace, not only between the GRP and the NDFP, but genuine and lasting peace that can be enjoyed by the vast majority of the people.
On the contrary, operation plan Bayanihan will just militarize the services that civilian authorities must carry out as their responsibility to the public. It will not solve the root causes of the people’s resistance but will exacerbate the people’s suffering.
The Aquino administration and the AFP with their civil society groups are also devaluing the definition of peace as a mere absence of war. They believe that eliminating insurgency will mean a nation’s progress without addressing the peoples demands and interest. They use the term peace from the perspective of those who preserve the status quo.
As people of faith and guided by deep definition of peace as state of well being of the majority of Gods creation, we abhor the new counter insurgency oplan Bayanihan for it deceives the people rather than promote peace. We look at the said oplan as a cosmetic tool of suppression rather than an element that will bring justice.
Peace will not be achieved until landlessness, foreign domination and self-serving governance are addressed. “Peace…requires the establishment of an order based on justice and charity” No. 494 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Mr. Nardy Sabino
Secretary-general, Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR)