Press Release
July 14, 2009

Transcript of Interview with Senator Richard J. Gordon

I was disappointed. They (military) said that all those who are in humanitarian missions out there we will go after these people (Abu Sayyaf) and if you (humanitarian workers) are there you are forewarned that we are not going to consider your situation, words to that effect. I think that's an unfortunate statement.

In the first place, you should not telegraph your punches with the enemy, if you're talking about that as an enemy. Second, I stand by what I said yesterday, I think this is an opportunity for goodwill. The three individuals from our society are alive. They were given to us, thank God and thank all the people of goodwill.

I think it's an opportunity for us to open doors for peace, alleviate human suffering in Jolo and in other places of the country including NPA-infested areas. It's time to show that our country is capable of delivering the necessary, it's so easy to say infrastructure, but the necessary respect, understanding and acceptance, and to provide moral, physical and legal infrastructure, meaning to say, good governance, physical infrastructures such as better schools, certified teachers, equipment, opportunities for livelihood, and not just hand-outs, not publicity initiatives but long term relationship.

The Red Cross is an organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering. Therefore, we should try to make every effort, especially use the opportunities presented before us, to try and reach out because these people are in pain. I have learned that our people have been inflicted pain because of people who are in pain. They must be given opportunities so that they will no longer be in pain, by being in pain I mean being in want, being in need. I think it behooves all governments, not just the Philippines , to address these types of problems so that we could find peace and development and dignity.

Should the humanitarian people stop there? I don't think so. There are no breaks in the Red Cross. You do not break the Red Cross' 150 years record of trying to succor to those who are disqualified from war, meaning to say the wounded, the imprisoned, to see whether their conditions are okay. They got the opportunity to kidnap our people while they were visiting to alleviate the suffering of those who are in prison.

Finally, you cannot make war on civilians. The Red Cross has been helping in the last couple of years. Fourteen million dollars have so far been spent by the Red Cross Movement in Cotabato, in Maguindanao since January. I think we should be wary and be careful about making precipitated statements that can only provoke conflict.

The governments and humanitarian organizations should constantly work for the welfare and dignity of all people. We will not stop the humanitarian work.

Eugenio's freedom has been won by many people at a severe cost. Many people cared, many people prayed, from all kinds of religions, all walks of life. I will remember the soldiers who died. They have families too. The policemen, civilian volunteers, even the Abu Sayyaf. After all, they are also human beings. We should never forget to remind one another that we are all in this together. And that they all have families, as well. That's why I am in the Red Cross. We do not work for faceless people. We work for people who have faces, who have families. I have faith in my men, and I think it is important for us to remember that. If there is any lesson learned here, we should always try to reach out and talk with one another. There is another opportunity to once again talk and make sure that we can try to provide peace and unity to our country. I hope that this will be the real lesson learned, not just the victory of liberation for our friends here. The true liberation will come when we have peace and development in this country and at peace with dignity, at that.

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