Speech of President Aquino at the “Light up for Peace” candle lighting ceremony, February 8, 2011


Speech
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At “Light up for peace”: A candle-lighting ceremony in support of the call for People Power for Peace
[Translation of speech delivered at the Quezon Memorial, Quezon City on February 8, 2011]
Armed conflict has long blanketed certain parts of our country. This has through the years caused sorrow, fear, division, and ill will among our countrymen. For every family caught in conflict and forced to pack their bags, there seems to be one attempt to reach out, which for the sad part has borne little in the way of solutions. So many lives have been wasted; so many communities have been driven away from their homes. The Filipino people have had enough of the fighting. They have had enough of the meaningless violence. They have seen enough of their fellow countrymen caught up in the bloodshed that, in the end, brings about no change. The Filipino people have had enough of conflict; it is time for peace.
Tonight’s lighting of the candles is a symbol of our solidarity; a symbol of our communal dream to forge peace in its truest sense. The light brought about by these candles will serve to guide us so that we may never again lose our way, so that we may never again end up along the path of violence and bloodshed.
It is time to strengthen the light of peace. It is time to set aside our doubts. It is time to restart the peace talks so that it may bear fruit to a meaningful agreement between the government and the insurgent groups. Tomorrow, exploratory talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will begin. In the coming weeks, formal talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF will commence as well. Likewise, a tripartite meeting has been set for the third week of this month between the government, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) so that we may find ways to implement the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
This is a sign that a new government, one bearing a mandate of change, has arrived; this is a reminder that we can now live without fear of the darkness of the past. This is a new beginning for all of us; a new chance for discourse. This is perhaps the best opportunity that we have to achieve the peace we have for so long desired. With good will and steadfast faith from all sides, we will succeed in this endeavor. Along with this, we will ensure that each and every Filipino is aware of the progress of the peace talks, and they will be given the opportunity to take part. We will hide nothing from our people.
Every Filipino is affected by these peace talks. From the beginning, I have invited all to stand in solidarity with us; to take part in the solution instead of contributing to the problem. I suppose some would ask—how exactly does one take part in the solution? The answer is simple: keep updated on the news, remain vigilant, and take part in the issue of peace. Even as the website of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process has gone online, they also have Facebook and Twitter accounts that exist to provide the public with timely and relevant news as regards the peace talks. Through these channels, you can freely correspond with OPAPP and share your thoughts and suggestions, so that we may altogether spur the peace process. There are also plenty of volunteer groups you can join in view of further widening your experience and knowledge about the peace process. And aside from events like concerts, fun runs, and medical missions, we can also use social media to make our message of peace much more accessible to the people. Through these simple means, we can help promote this advocacy; we can allow our countrymen to feel that their talents and their time are significant contributions to the achievement of peace.
We all know that these conflicts are rooted in much larger problems: corruption, poverty, injustice, human rights violations, and bad governance, among others. This is why our goal involves more than mere ceasefires. We want to cease corruption, cease poverty, cease violence, and cease the abuse of power. Instead of merely pursuing the armed rebels to no end, we will put greater focus on pursuing our people’s welfare and addressing the effects of these conflicts on their lives. Instead of making the problem worse, we will assess the root causes of the situation and come up with a fair and peaceful resolution.
Now, it is no longer darkness, but daylight that guides our country along the straight path; we will no longer go astray. As our panels work toward establishing peaceful engagement, I am confident that we will win a true end to hostilities. May the different groups involved understand and feel that we long for nothing but harmony and solidarity so that we may achieve lasting peace. While this country is made up of seven thousand islands, we are one as a people: holding up a light that guides us toward one future, united in our communal longing for peace.
Again, a peaceful day to all. Before I end, I would like to remind everyone that anything is possible so long as we really strive for it, so long as we stand in solidarity with each other. What once might have been considered impossible is now within reach.
Good evening. Thank you to everyone.