PASIG CITY, December 21, 2018 — Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who officially assumed as the new Presidential Peace Adviser on Thursday, said his experiences in armed conflict have made him more determined to choose peace in trying to solve political disputes in the country.

“Have you seen the tears of a dying man? I did many times… It is very painful,” he said during the handover rites at the main office of the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“We cannot go back to war anymore,” he added.

Galvez said some critics “have pointed out that I come from an institution that manufactures war machines.”

“But let me tell you, having been in the military for decades made me see the ugly head of armed conflict. In my early days in the military service, I was wounded in a battle somewhere in the Davao area. That experience has made me choose the path of peace,” he said.

In his farewell speech, former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said he has “great confidence” that he is handing over the reins of OPAPP ‘to someone I have known… for a long time.”

“There is no other person who can deal with peace than a person who faces war daily in his life as a military person,” he said.

Galvez, who assumed as the 11th Presidential Peace Adviser, is not the first retired general to lead OPAPP.

The first military man to assume the position of peace adviser was General Manuel Yan, who later became an ambassador.

It was under Secretary Yan that the Final Peace Agreement between the government and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was signed.

Other military men who served as Presidential Peace Adviser were General Eduardo Ermita and General Hermogenes Esperon.

General Avelino Razon, a former chief of police, was also named peace adviser.

Other former top military men also led the government peace panels in the peace negotiations.

Critical crossroad

Galvez thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for the trust and confidence given to him, saying he will do his best to be a good Secretary as the entire peace processes in the country is “at the critical crossroad.”

“We have the plebiscite in Mindanao to win. We have also newly President Duterte’s EO 70 to accomplish. And we have other equally important peace tables that we need to continue to engage with,” he said.

EO 70, which Duterte signed on December 4, 2018, directs the adoption of a national peace framework and institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to attain “inclusive and sustainable peace” in the country to address the root causes of the armed conflict.

At the same time, Galvez vowed to institute reforms at OPAPP, saying the bottom line is that the agency needs to deliver the services the public deserves.

“Checks and balances, along with fairness, transparency and accountability, will be the cornerstones of my policies as we restructure our organization,” he said.

“I’m committing myself to be a good Secretary. I’ll put my honor, integrity, and position on the line,” he added.