QUEZON CITY, September 6 – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) officially opened the three-day KaPEACEtahan Peace Fair on Thursday here at the TriNoMa Activity Center.
According to Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. who led the launching of the Peace Fair, the event highlights the crucial role that each Filipino plays in sustaining and building on the peace gains.
KaPEACEtahan, which is among the major activities lined up for this year’s celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month with the theme “Kapayapaan: Responsibilidad ng Bawat Mamamayan,” will run from from September 6 to 8.
“Karangalan po ng Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity o OPAPRU na ibahagi sa aming mga kapwa Pilipino ang napakaraming bunga ng prosesong kapayapaan sa ating bansa,” Galvez said.
“This peace fair is made possible by the countless individuals and organizations that are working very hard to help the national government promote the culture of peace and harmony. Joining us here today are representatives from our partner communities, as well as our other peace partners,” he added.
The KaPEACETahan Peace Fair, an annual gathering of various sectors of society, celebrates how the national government’s peace initiatives are transforming once conflict-affected communities into show windows of peace and progress.
Featured in the three-day fair are products made by OPAPRU-supported communities as well partner LGUs and other beneficiaries.
Present during the opening ceremony were Albay Rep. Joey Salceda and UNESCO Clubs’ Abdulcader Alsufi who delivered their messages of peace.
“Traveling here from Mindanao is enough proof to show that we live in a peaceful country and we are peace lovers. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is when there’s food on the table and peace starts at home,” Alsufi said. “We will continuously promote peace through different curricular activities.”
Rep. Salceda noted how former heavily conflicted areas in Bicol are now “booming with rapid economic activity.” Peace, he noted, is an existential necessity especially in a place constantly affected by climate change and the daily threat of Mayon.
“Now, the economic township in Albay contains all the most populous barangays – not just in Albay but in the entire Bicol region…That is the best proof of peace and economic prosperity,” Salceda said, also noting how their area now serves as host to sunrise developments and tourism. “Clearly, peace makes prosperity and prosperity makes peace.”
Peace as Fiscal Issue
Rep Salceda said the country needs to address the internal conflict so it has means to protect its external defense, syaing “peace is a fiscal issue.”
“This does not seem obvious at first, but I explained…that we cannot afford a credible external defense posture if our internal peace situation does not improve. In an archipelago with larger territorial waters than land area, our navy is just 16 percent of the total AFP fighting force – even when the external threats require a strong first line of maritime defense. We have been forced to focus on land-based forces because our biggest national security situation for decades was internal,” he said.
“Because of the work of OPAPRU, we can transition our resources from internal threats to a credible national defense posture. As I sometimes say half-jokingly, the more success Secretary Galvez achieves, the more fiscal space we have to buy F-16s and HIMARS,” he said in jest.
Shared and inclusive prosperity through lasting peace
Rep Salcedo, who has been a champion, said that he is pushing for the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA), saying that the prospect of peace alone creates conditions for prosperity.
“Prior to official hearings and enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, from 2000 to 2016, the average annual real GDP growth rate in the BARMM was 4.6%. With the prospect of peace, the BARMM economy has increased by an average of 6.0% annually since then, even with the pandemic. In fact, BARMM recorded the lowest decline in GDP in 2020 among all regions. Over the same period, national GDP growth averaged just 3.9%,” he said.
“The PAMANA program, despite setbacks, has increased economic activity by as much as 20% according to a NEDA evaluation of the project. Very few government interventions can cause such immediate effects,”he said.
“In Albay, when I first took over as Governor in 2007, the local insurgency situation was still quite hot. Through an aggressive social development platform, including a college graduate in every family, achieving the social development goals early, and making disaster risk reduction a focal point of governance, we eroded the causes of conflict,”he added.
The peace fair featured cultural performances by the Dulaang Tinaja and a presentation by the Mindanao State University – General Santos Campus.
Regional KaPEACEtahan fairs at the Bicol University in Albay from September 14 and 15; and at the Mindanao State University – General Santos City Campus from September 21 to 22.
For more updates on this year’s peace month celebrations, you may follow OPAPRU’s social media accounts with the username @peacegovph on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. ###