Samira Gutoc tells gov’t: ‘Peace-building, not all-out war’
MANILA, Philippines — The government should reconsider its military offensive against communist rebels, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc said Saturday as she urged the Duterte administration to prioritize peace-building over launching an all-out war on insurgents.
“War always has an ugly face. And more often than not, it is people who get caught in the crossfire that suffer the most when shots are fired,” Gutoc, an opposition senatorial candidate in next year’s elections, said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier maintained his stand not to declare a holiday truce with the rebels.
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, has claimed previous ceasefires have “not worked to the best interest of Filipinos” and that “it’s not worth it.”
Despite this, the Communist Party of the Philippines ordered the New People’s Army to observe a holiday truce at midnight of Dec. 24 to midnight of Dec. 26 and at midnight of Dec. 31 and to midnight of Jan. 1.
The ceasefire, Gutoc said, would have given soldiers time to spend with their loved ones instead of risking their lives. Because there was no ceasefire, a clash between government forces and insurgents in Compostela Valley on December 26 left 11 soldiers wounded, she added.
“Let us give peace a chance. It is always worth the try, it is always worth the trust. Ang dapat ay bayanihan, huwag kamay na bakal.”
Gutoc, a former member of the Philippine Army Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board, said the “primacy of peace process” should always be observed.
“Human security must always be complemented with national security, or else displacement will be a way of life for many of our brothers and sisters,” she said.
“Our esteemed officials in the military should continue to pursue peaceful means of resolving the armed conflict in the country. The Filipino people deserve no less,” Gutoc continued. /ee
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