The men and women of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) join all of you, our fellow peace builders, peace advocates and peace workers, as you celebrate the Mindanao Week of Peace with the theme “Harnessing our Peace Efforts: Towards Solidarity.”

The country’s path to a just and lasting peace, especially here in Mindanao, has been a very challenging one. But with the steadfast commitment shown by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to sustain the gains of the comprehensive Philippine peace process, our road to peace has remained on track and continues to gain momentum.

Under the Marcos administration’s banner of unity, the OPAPRU, together with its various peace partners, is doing its best to ensure that the national government is able to fulfill the commitments it has made under all signed peace agreements, and to build on the dividends of peace.

Peace is the thread that unites all of us — regardless of tribe, religion or personal beliefs. And it is this burning desire for peace that has allowed us to make what seemed impossible possible, such as mending the torn social fabric of society and healing the wounds of the past caused by armed conflict.

The recent reunification of the two major Moro groups – the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front –  is a result not only of their desire to put the past behind them and start anew, but also due to the strong support coming from various sectors of society who want these organizations to reunite.

Indeed, blessed are the peacemakers. Over the years, they have been playing an invaluable role in helping create an environment where sustainable peace can take root and flourish. What is more amazing is that most of them are not in the limelight, but prefer to work on the sidelines. Let us give them their due credit.

For it is only by breaking down the walls of animosity, mistrust and violence, and building bridges of hope, understanding and compassion that we would be able to achieve genuine and long-lasting peace. We are pleased to note that all our efforts are now bearing fruit because of improving peace and security conditions here.

And as we celebrate the Mindanao Week of Peace, let us remind ourselves that in unity, there is strength. Let us also take this opportunity to honor our peace warriors and peace champions who have played an invaluable role in cultivating and strengthening the culture of peace here in Mindanao.  Finally, I would like to call on each and every one of you to continue to carry out the peacebuilding initiatives you have started, and to keep the fire in your bellies burning. For it is that fire that will light up our path, as we build a better, brighter and more peaceful future for our children and the generations to come. ###