[Welcome Address: American Corner Talks. Davao. Sept. 30, 2019.]
It is my privilege to welcome you to the US Embassy’s American Corner Talks with the theme: Contributions to Peace and Security: Toward Mindanao Well-Being and Resilience
I welcome the resource persons:
Mr. John Harvey Gamas, an Alumnus of the Study of the US Institutes and Chair of the International Studies Department of the ADDU who will speak on: the Contribution of International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy to Peace and Security
Dr. Rec Eguia, a Humphrey Fellow and Dean of Advanced Studies, of the University of Southeast Philippines who will spake on the Contribution of Education and Research to Peace and Security to Peace and Security
And Datu Mussolini S. Lidasan a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and Director of the Al Qalam Institute on Muslim Identities and Dialogue in SE Asia who will speak on the Contribution of Community Development and Dialogue to Peace and Security.
So we are interested in greater insight into peace and security from the vantage points of International Relations and Diplomacy, Education and Reseach, and Community Develop and Dialogue. But we are interested in Peace and Security as these are relevant to Mindanao’s Well Being and Resilience.
Certainly, past Midterm of the first President of the Philippines from Mindanao, the status of Mindanao’s well being and resilience is certainly worth addressing, as the President pursues the nation’s liberation from drug abuse and corruption, the development of the nation’s infrastructure, but continues to be stymied by the traffic problem in EDSA. Has the President from Mindanao been able to increase the Mindanaoans’ well being and resilience? Or have things deteriorated?
Has the Pivot to China in the West Philippine Sea, the pivot away from trust in the Mutual Defence Treaty with the United States, the pivot towards more reliance even in matters of security on ASEAN, made us feel more secure? Have we been able to find greater or less security in the relationships we have with the United States or the European Union when the unabashed taglines today are America First or Brexit or, more recently, on both sides of the Atlantic, impeachment? Is there a global order that we are all working towards that would secure the global common good, when globalization is attacked by a resurgent nationalism, and the one country that remains constant in its global vision through its Belt and Road Initiative is China, the same China that the Hong Kong youth seem so determined to break away from.
Are our instruction and research that comes from our universities or our institutes for peace sufficient to give us the wisdom we need to chart a course for independence yet relatedness relative to the countries that impact on us?
In Mindanao, the Bangsamoro organic law has been passed and the BARMM has been initiated. But has this increased or decreased Mindanao’s well being and resilience. Where guns have been de-commissioned, and violent soldiers metamorphosed into productive citizens, is there enough political will to overcome insecurities to make productive decisions for the common good? What is the trajectory of community development – the restoration of traditional ethnic power blocks or the new emergence of inter-ethnic groups cooperating with one another to achieve the common good through social justice?
It seems to me a fundamental matter needs to be resolved as to whether peace and well being will be established through the language of coercion and enforcement, or through the language of dialogue, understanding, and free collaboration. Is peace enforced through the barrel of a gun or achieved through the compulsion of insight and wisdom based on historical experience? Do we legislate more peace and security through such as ROTC or improving our insight into history, international relations, diplomacy, and dialogue? For peace is not just the absence of violence, but the imperative of insight into conditions that can bring about human flourishing and that diverse peoples agree upon to realize.
But the experts are here. Let us listen to the experts. May we all have a fruitful afternoon together.