MENDIOLA, MANILA, 23 October, 2019 – The gradual integration of peace education in the general curriculum of schools and universities is seen as an effective measure to prevent and counter violent extremism and communist insurgency in the country, according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

“Peace education should be comprehensive and multi-pronged. First, we have to educate the vulnerable, the orphans, those in the ‘last mile areas,’ and the youth,” Galvez said.

He explained that the national government’s continued engagement with educational institutions is in line with its efforts to mainstream and institutionalize peace education.

“We are partnering with different universities so that peacebuilding will be part of the major curriculum in all subjects that we have,” Galvez said.

OPAPP, in partnership with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education, is taking the lead in developing educational materials and other literature to promote peace education in the country under the Executive Order 570.

Making violent extremism irrelevant

The presidential peace adviser noted that peace education will counter the efforts of local terror groups to spread the ideology of violent extremism in the country in the long-term.

“Peace education will really play an important role in our administration’s program to remove the concept of the ISIS caliphate in the minds of our brothers and sisters,” Galvez said during a peace dialogue last Wednesday with the students of the San Beda University-Manila.

He was specifically referring to a Mindanao-based terrorist organization which pledged allegiance to the ISIS group in the Middle East, and was responsible for carrying out the Marawi siege.

Peace education, Galvez emphasized, will thwart violent extremists from preying on the unsuspecting youth.

The Presidential Peace Adviser, who was then the Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff, shared his experiences during the height of the Marawi siege and the city’s eventual liberation from the hands of the terror group.

Part of Galvez’ presentation was a nine-minute video which documented the battle of Marawi.

During an open forum with the students, Galvez pointed out that the declaration of Martial Law has served as a major deterrent and contain the terror groups which would like to expand and wreak havoc on the populace.

Martial law, Galvez added, has also given residents, particularly in conflict-ridden areas, a greater sense of security and has been instrumental in strictly enforcing law and order in most affected communities.

Peace education, key to non-violent conflict resolution

Galvez said peace education will help sustain the gains of the peace processes in the country, and provide the youth and future leaders the necessary tools to address situations of conflict and social divides through non-violent approaches.

He said this is the same concept the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process  is utilizing to prevent indigenous peoples (IPs) and the youth from being victimized by communist insurgents.

Galvez cited the case of Salugpungan schools in Mindanao that were permanently shut down by government because they were being used by the communist group as a venue to indoctrinate the IPs.

This is the reason, he explained, why the government is helping to capacitate local leaders and residents so that they themselves can ensure the safety and security of their communities.

“We organize the IPs and teach them how to defend themselves so they can be the ones to police their own communities. In order to defend the IPs, we have to educate them. We are now [tapping the assistance] of schools,” he said.

Themed, “Peace Process: Kapayapaan, Kaya Pa ‘Yan!,” students learned about the Duterte Administration’s various initiatives to build enduring and sustainable peace across the nation.

Peace process gains

Galvez discussed the major gains achieved in the Philippine peace process, specifically how the Duterte administration is implementing all the signed peace agreements with the different revolutionary groups in the country.

Just midway through his term, the Duterte administration has already achieved major milestones in the Bangsamoro peace process with the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In the Visayas, members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group are now gradually being mainstreamed into the society through holistic and integrated multi-year normalization programs.

The government strengthens its engagement with the elders of the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army as part of the commitments it made under the peace agreement signed by both parties.

Moreover, the government continues to hold dialogues with local leaders and other community stakeholders in line with the implementation of the Whole-of-Nation Approach under Executive Order 70.

Peacebuilding is nation-building.

Meanwhile, San Beda University Dean of Student Affairs Dominador Manlicon highlighted the timeliness of the peace forum.

“The topic for today’s gathering is very timely because it perfectly fits the academic theme of San Beda University in this academic year,” Manlicon said.

“Let the efforts that we have undertaken today bring realization to every Filipino’s dream of a peaceful nation,” he added.

For his part, Kobe Felicia, external vice president of The Repvblic, the professional organization of the San Beda University’s Department of Political Science, shared the insights he learned at the forum.

“No matter how powerful or rich the leader is, attaining peace won’t be possible without the majority. Let us give peace a chance,” Felicia said.

The peace forum was organized by The Repvblic, in partnership with the University of Bengkulu of Indonesia, and San Beda University’s Linkages and International Affairs.

In his parting words, Galvez told the students to “put your family and education first.”

“The only advice I can give to you is love your family. When you go home, hug your mother and father. Stay with your family,” Galvez said. ###