Press Release
July 16, 2009


We see the problems of Sulu and Muslim Mindanao not in terms of war or peace. We see it as a problem of delivering good governance and development which bombs and bullets will not resolve.

I am glad that everybody is now joining the debate regarding amnesty for some members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who may want to go back into the fold of the law.

What I want to do is to put people into a peace mode from a war mode. It is only in this mode of peace that we can move forward and begin finding a solution.

I am calling for a sincere and effective solution to the never ending war in Mindanao. This entails a full court press from the government in terms of improving the economy, delivering justice, and infusing infrastructure in conflict areas -- not just amnesty.

All out war has never led to peace and to progress.

It only digs a deeper hole and creates more problems and new complications. Long term solutions are arrived at only after sound consideration and constructive debate. They do not just appear in one's mind as a brilliant idea at a snap of a finger.

We should never close the door on the possibility of peace that will lead to development.

We have been applying the policies of war for over four decades, nearly three generations have been born and have grown to maturity in an atmosphere of conflict. Countless members of these generations have died in Mindanao and what we ought to have learned is that a policy of war creates more war, more bloodshed, more death, more destruction.

We ought to look more seriously at implementing a policy of peace. A policy of abandoning old grievances and grudges; a policy of rebuilding what was destroyed; a policy of working together to create a new future that was never before possible; a policy of respect, a policy of understanding, and a policy of acceptance towards our Filipino Muslim brothers; A POLICY OF TURNING SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES.

Finally, let us consider that no one dies when we talk about amnesty or peace.

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