PICC HALL, MANILA (September 21, 2018) – “I wish I live to see the day you are irrelevant.”

This was the message of Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano to executives and personnel of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace (OPAPP) in his remarks during the celebration of the agency’s 25th Founding Anniversary.

Quickly clarifying his statement, Cayetano said OPAPP will have already accomplished its mission once the country has achieved “true, encompassing peace.”

He also said OPAPP will never be irrelevant considering the instrumental role it has played over the years in pushing forward the nation’s peace process.

“If we do have peace, development, prosperity, brotherhood or sisterhood, then we don’t need to have a peace adviser, a peace process or all of these mechanisms we have today,” Cayetano, who represented President Rodrigo Duterte during the event, said.

He said it has long been President Duterte’s dream to see just and lasting peace take root throughout the country.

“You might have different opinions about our President, but no one can deny that he wants peace, that his life work is all about peace,” he said.

Cayetano noted that Davao City is a very good example of how the President, who was then the mayor, decisively addressed the many peace and security challenges confronting his community.

“What was Davao when he became mayor? It was a place where no one knew peace and no one knew order,” he said.

“But somehow, in his own way, he found a way to make Davao a place that is welcome to all — men, women, LGBTs, (the) extreme left, extreme right, from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, foreigners,” he said.

“I know the President’s heart. [But] Sec. Jess (Dureza) knows the President’s heart better when it comes to peace,” he added.

Cayetano lauded OPAPP for the outstanding work it has done over the years, particularly in negotiating with the various Moro fronts and pushing for the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

“I know you have many successes and we are praying and working hard that the new Bangsamoro law, the new government, and the plebiscite will be successful,” he said.

“And we will continue to pour in support and prayers [and] also the resources needed,” he added.

Cayetano credited OPAPP for turning him into a believer and finally convincing him to throw his support behind the BOL.

“The people in OPAPP don’t give up. You didn’t give up on me when I was opposing it. You kept knocking on my door until I saw the light,” he said, eliciting applause and cheers from the audience.

“Thank you OPAPP. You never took peace for granted,” he concluded.

For his part, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza highlighted the instrumental role of its “peace partners,” especially civil society organizations (CSOs) and foreign donor agencies, in realizing the Duterte administration’s Peace and Development Agenda.

“The donor community, CSOs, and our workers on the ground are the ones engaging the bigger peace table. Because OPAPP cannot do it alone,” he said.

“But those on the ground are the ones who make this happen. There’s a collective effort that we have seen so far,” he added.

Dureza admitted that peacebuilding is not an easy task and requires all stakeholders to work “peace by piece.”

Citing the BOL as an example, he stressed that lasting peace can only be achieved through an inclusive and holistic effort.

“The road to peace is not a paved road. It has so many humps and bumps along the way. But it is important that we keep the course together,” Dureza said.

At the same event, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan underscored the relevance of celebrating National Peace Consciousness Month.

“This year’s celebrations reflect OPAPP’s mission to achieve just and lasting peace for the nation,” he said.

“The theme is a call for participative, collective, and inclusive approach towards our shared aspiration for a just, comprehensive, and enduring peace,” he added.

“Despite diversity in culture, religion, values, and ideology, we are one in working to end internal armed conflicts and more importantly, resolution of root causes that enables unpeace,” he added. ###