When they officially launched the implementing phase of the Bangsamoro peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last Saturday, August 13, in Malaysia, it was a ceremony inspired by high-tech sci-fi movies.
As I listen to the words being exchanged between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the comments and reactions they inspire from different people, I cannot help but notice how we as a people have been conditioned to use the language of war.
Everybody knows President Duterte wants 911 for the entire country just like what he started in Davao City when he was mayor, but they do not know that it was Police Director-General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who pushed its nationwide implementation and launching in mere 30 days.
So much has been said about President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s all out war against illegal drugs, crime, and corruption. But I believe his real mission, the reason why he was destined to become president, is to provide the strong leadership to finally end the war that has divided many Filipinos for many decades.
I had the fortune of interacting with Bataan first district Representative Geraldine Roman during the National Women’s Summit 2016 held last June 24 in Davao City. The summit’s theme, “What Women Want: Change!” was really fitting as we celebrate the election of the first Philippine President from Mindanao and the first transgender legislator in Philippine Congress. Change is, indeed, here.
The women leaders from all over the country warmly embraced Rep. Roman as one of them. In her message of solidarity, she said: “I was elected to represent only my hometown of Bataan but I have now also become a de facto representative of the LGBT community in Congress, which I am proud and happy to do.”
Yes, President Rodrigo R. Duterte is not the only superstar in the country now. Rep. Roman has her own legions of fans and supporters wishing her well.
I am so inspired by the positive response of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the incoming administration and their faith that the decades-long peace process can be accelerated under the leadership of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Suddenly talking about peace is exciting again and ending war once and for all in this country is no longer that remote a possibility.
One of the innovative programs initiated by the people of Davao City and supported by the City Government of Davao is the Davao Food Revolution. It is a revolution that believes access to affordable healthy food is a human rights and social justice issue.
This food revolution is being led by women, who usually make the decisions about food in the family. They are the women who belong to the Mothers for Peace movement. And the revolution officially started in 2012 with the partnership of Mothers for Peace, the City Government of Davao, and the Department of Education (DepEd).
Everyone I meet these days, when they learn that I have served as Mayor Rody Duterte’s chief of staff for seven years (first in 1997-1998, then in 2004-2010), ask me what sort of person he really is. And my answer is always the same: “He is what he shows you he is, contradictions and all.”
But non-Davaoeños seem to want a more detailed explanation. They want to know the man behind the public persona. They assume there is a difference between the public Duterte and the private Duterte. But that’s the thing. There isn’t. What you see is the real deal. He is so comfortable with who he is and sees no point in hiding anything or embellishing his public image in a way that could be more acceptable to bourgeois society.