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Speech of President Arroyo delivered at Bohol Tropics Resort
« on: September 20, 2007, 08:24:18 AM »
PGMA's Speech during the Closing Program of the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) for Central Visayas

Sandugo Grand Ballroom,  Bohol Tropics Resort Tagbilaran City, Bohol

24 August 2007

Maraming salamat.  Please sit down.

Maraming salamat, Secretary Gonzales, representing the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jess Dureza, whose father passed away two days ago, which is why he’s not here with us, and we extend to him our condolences.

I’d also like to extend our condolences to General Victor Mayo, whose wife just passed away  today.

Other cabinet members; Governor Aumentado and the other local government officials of Bohol and Central Visayas; our congressmen; participants of the Local Peace and Security Assembly;  men and women of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; other guests; ladies and gentlemen,  good morning,  maayong buntag.

We’re here today among the descendants of Dagohoy  in one of the resorts in this beautiful resort province,  to declare our resolve to defeat terror and rout the enemies of democracy. People of Bohol, our hosts, your ancestors did not take savagery sitting down.  Instead, they fought back. Inspired by Boholanos,  from Dagohoy  to Aumentado, we too will fight back and repel the incursions of insurgency and terrorism.

We will not stop until bandits find no more nook to hide in the land they have blighted, and no sanctuary to seek from people they have terrorized and used at  shields.  But, as recommended and presented by the resolutions of this assembly, we do not and will never, employ the bloody means terror employs to compel forced obedience of their obsolete ideas and outrageous demands.

We, on the other hand, complying and in full accord with the resolutions of this assembly will employ all means available in the arsenal of democracy to crush those who wish to transplant the roots of radicalism in our land

As you have recommended, economic development remains our principal weapon against radicalism. Because as markets expand, poverty contracts, and preachers of hate are elbowed out by the advance of progress.

Education is another tool, for enlightenment extinguishes extremism and radicalism.

While our enemies destroy, we will build; while they wreck the fruits of our labor, we will help our people get back on their feet; while they harm, we will heal.  Every infrastructure they will tear down, we will replace, be it the edifice of our democracy or the dwelling of common folk.

They will try to erase our democratic way of life, but they will not succeed.  They will try to scuttle progress, not by rewriting our economic blueprint, for it’s an exercise too complex for barbarians, but through acts of terror and a war of attrition.  Yet,  to  no  avail.

But let me be clear on one point.  In preaching peace and working for progress, we are not foreclosing our use of our military to protect our people and keep them safe.

For those who recognize no other language but force and violence, government will be tough and relentless.

Our soldiers have performed valiantly.  Those who have fallen in the battles of Basilan and Sulu have paid the ultimate price.  Their heroic deeds will never be forgotten.  So, too, those who have perished in the jungles fighting the NPA.  The nation will ever be grateful to them for defending our right to live in peace and freedom.

A Commander-In-Chief cannot ask for more from those who have been in the line of fire. But they have earned the right to ask from me. Without telling them, without them telling me what they are, I know what they are. We will give it to them, the weapons to win battles and the wherewithal to win the peace.

To the military, this is my message: We are currently engaged in three fronts --   the communist insurgency, the rebellion in the south, and sheer terrorism with no pretenses.  Hindi tayo aatras sa pakikibaka upang mabigyan ng kapayapaan at kaunlaran ang bayan. and I am very happy that in the whereas portion of the resolution, the assembly agrees with our specified timeline,  three years,  to end armed rebellion in the Philippines.

The AFP must therefore evolve a strategy of rapid conclusion to address armed rebellion, with the national security council providing policy direction on communist insurgency, Muslim secessionism, and sheer terrorism.

The communist rebels have spent years as a low-level threat.  However, they impede the progress and development of a number of rural areas, and they are responsible for a wide range of human rights abuses.

If we are to become a first world country, we have to put a stop to their ideological nonsense and their criminal acts once and for all.  It is either get rid of them now, or get rid of them later.  Whatever happens, they must be stopped.

The maneuver battalions do the S.O.T., and one of the roots of success in Bohol was that the local government was the senior partner in the S.O.T. in what was called the convergence approach.  The maneuver battalions conduct patrols against the NPA, but they are not security guards.  They clear and consolidate npa areas then leave behind organized CAFGUs as stay-behind forces and move on to clear other areas.  While the CAFGUs do not share the salaries and retirement benefits of the soldiers, they share in the training and they now share in the 40 pesos a day increase in the soldiers’ allowance effective last July.

The AFP must be upgraded towards the acquisition of mission essentials, or what we need to immediately win the war in the three fronts.  This is where the five billion pesos modernization fund in next year’s budget should go.

The armed forces, of course, must have the support of the people as they had the support of the people of Bohol.  Kaya dapat lamang  suportahan ng AFP ang mga pagkilos ng mga pinunong lokal para sa kapayapaan.  Dapat lamang makipagtulungan and AFP at PNP sa mga gobyernong lokal at sa taong-bayan upang pagtibayin ang mga lunsod at pamayanan laban sa anumang pakana ng mga terorista.

At mga sundalo, huwag mapadala sa mga naghahangad hati-hatiin ang hukbo sa bisa ng mga mapalinlang at walang katotohanang propaganda. 

We must engage the support of the people by enhancing civil-military relations.  And I fully agree with the recommendation of the assembly that we should review the reservist and reserve force development program of the AFP, the ROTC and other similar programs consistent with the doctrine of a citizen’s army enshrined in the constitution.

Bukod sa terorista at rebelde, nagbabanta rin sa atin ang bagyo at baha sa ilang bahagi ng bansa, at kakulangan ng ulan sa ibang lugar.  Makipagkapit-bisig tayo upang tulungan ang mga kababayan nating nagdurusa sa pinsala ng panahon.

To the civilian agencies, this is my message:  “the gains of our economic growth have been reinvested in our people through increased infrastructure and social services programs.”

A few days ago, I said, the H.E.L.P. (HELP)  is on the way.  By HELP  (H.E.L.P.),  we refer to health,  education,  livelihood,  progress for Basilan and Sulu.  This is our template not only for Basilan and Sulu but for winning all the three fronts.

On health: DOH and PCSO should work with the local governments to provide health insurance for indigent families and improve long-term care for our senior citizens;  they should send doctors and medical personnel to conduct free clinics together with the soldiers in S.O.T. areas;  they should fast-track the creation of regional heart, lung and kidney centers in medical center of key cities such as Vicente Sotto regional hospital in Cebu so that the poor do not have to spend money to travel to Manila when they have a sophisticated ailment in heart, lung and kidney; and DOH and PCSO should upgrade primary local government hospitals to the secondary level by helping them acquire the equipment to deliver babies and do simple surgery.  I remember when there was the food poisoning here in Bohol.  It took a long time... I mean, it took time for all the children to be brought to Tagbilaran and so therefore, we should have upgraded hospitals in the places that are far from the good secondary or tertiary hospitals.  And that’s how the national government can help the local governments even if DOH or health services are devolved.

The nutrition council, which is now under the DOH, should also work with the local governments on food-for-school programs. The Philippine International Trading Corporation  which though is under the DTI is chaired by the DOH secretary should set up botikas selling half-priced medicines commonly bought by the poor.

On education:   the Department of Education must build and repair schools as needed to have a maximum grade school ratio of 50 students to one classroom for two shifts.  Make sure every grade school student has a textbook in math, science and english.  Maximize the use of distance learning in NPA areas to make sure the content is not infiltrated.  And also to make sure that the deliverer of the content is not infiltrated, train soldier-teachers for those areas.

On livelihood:  the Deparment of Trade and Industry must help the people market their products at better prices and mobilize the private business sector as part of the team of stakeholders together with local governments, the religious and academic sectors and civil society.  The DPWH and DOTC must  improve the  infrastructure most needed in a given area to create an environment in which businesses feel confident to expand and employ more people.

In Basilan, where Secretary Teodoro and I and our Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces and the other military officials and the chief PNP and other police officials were yesterday, the most important infrastructure is the Basilan circumferential road.  And while the Saudi  fund has been signed for that road for next year’s implementation, we are going to frontload it because after all, we have tax money for frontloading and the materials will be provided by the DPWH, the manpower will be provided by the engineering forces.

Here in Bohol, we have of course the Panglao airport which will bring in more and more tourists to Bohol and therefore bring all those ex-NPA’s down because there’s a job waiting for them.

We must wield a new paradigm of peace through the use of both hard and soft power.  The hard power of military might and the soft power that our growing economy allows us the resources to have to strike deeper into the roots of insurgency.  The soft power is to continue to pursue a peace formula of  effective capability-building programs and dialogue  to add or in fact even to be a senior partner compared to military might.

We need to retrace the roots of discontent -- and Bohol did that -- and nip the problem in the bud.  We must wield together...  We must meld together confidence-building measures grounded on economic and basic infrastructure development.

In the remaining areas in Bohol where you still have a few barangays influenced by the NPA that’s because they are inaccessible from a... through national roads.  So there is a bill filed by the two congressmen in whose districts these few barangays are located to transform these local roads into a national road.

Ang eksperyensiya sa Bohol maoy dakong pruweba nga mao kini ang aton kinahanglan karon.  Dili pa dugay sukad sa panahon kon diin ang Bohol maoy base sa mga labing aktibong rebelde sa rehiyon.

And you learned of this experience from Governor Aumentado yesterday.  It took the resolute efforts of a governor, Governor Aumentado, nga hingpit nga gitabangan sa usa ka komander sa militar, nga komander karon sa 7th division sa Fort Magsaysay, si General Juanito Gomez kaniadto, ug gibuligan ug mga nagkalain-laing sektor, naputol na gyud ang local insurgency diri. 

Sa tuig 2005, usa na lang ka front sa mga rebelde ang nabilin kay nalimpiyo na ang ubang fronts.

Ang ilang programa alang sa mga rebel returnees gipadayon karon nila brigade Commander Bellosa under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Cardozo luna ug PNP RD Alarcio.

Labaw pang midako ang kahulugan sa Bohol experience karon nga kadaghanan ang mga rebelde npa nga andam nga mobalik sa kinabuhing malinawon and turn their guns into plowshares.  And your number one recommendation is the amnesty program, so I’m asking our National Security Adviser to call a National Security Council meeting a week from Tuesday.  Oh, no. If we can call it on the evening of august 28, so we have to cancel my appointment on august 28 at night.  Let’s have a National Security Council meeting over dinner  so we can discuss that amnesty proposal.

Kining mga igsuon nato nawala sa dalan ug ni-apil sa mga rebelde tungod sa kapobrehan.

I am looking forward to meet the many local government officials, religious and civil society leaders in other regions preparing for their own peace assemblies.

The resolutions of this and forthcoming peace assemblies, when refined and adopted by all LGUs, will be potent tools for security and stronger local governments and therefore, for a stronger and progressive Philippines.

Naka-una ang Bohol sa anti-insurgency campaign.  Kon ipadayon ninyo kining inyong panaghiusa, ug sigurado ko naman na mapadayon, ga-una pa kamo... Padayon pa kamo ga-una sa kalinaw ug kauswagan.

Daghan salamat, Bohol. Daghan salamat, Governor Aumentado, sa maayong ehemplo nga gipakita ninyo.  Gihatag namo kaninyo ang among makusog nga suporta.  Ipadayon ninyo kini! And to all of you, let there be peace and prosperity in our land.

Daghan salamat.  Thank you.  Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.   

Romans 10:9
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

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