Teodoro’s take on peace: be practical
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro wants to approach peace with a “strong dose of practicality, pragmatism and political realism” as he questioned the approach of solving the root causes of conflict” because “has any society been able to solve the root causes of conflict?”
He told the 8th Mindanao Island Conference of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines on Wednesday night that the first lesson he learned in approaching the problem of peace and order is to do it with “the backing of some values and some idealism and with strong dose of practicality, pragmatism, and political realism”.Congress organizers chose “One Island, One Mindanao, Give Peace a Chance” as the conference theme.
“If we go like some of our forebears were rationalizing … that we will not have peace if we do not solve the root causes of conflict, of injustice in society, fine. I agree. Maybe. But has any society been able to solve the root causes of conflict?” he asked.
Perhaps, he said, “that’s why some attempts to forge peace particularly when civil society is involved, do not work because at the end of the day, everything must be a function, a fruit and a product of our political process under our Constitution.”
“Meaning to say, at the end of the day, it is you, board members, vice governors, governors, congressmen, senators, the vice president, and the President who shall make that call and in your hands lie the power to make any settlement work or not work,” he stressed.
Teodoro argued that it is hard for any society to have no conflicts since there will always be disagreements, race relations, and sufferings even in developed countries.
Peace, he explained, “is a contextual state of mind and its context is law and order, pursuant to the Constitution.”
For Teodoro, a “workable and reliable context of peace” would be for government to have “sufficient public investment” in disarming all lawless armed groups by strengthening the police, the armed forces, and the criminal justice system to deter people from doing illegal acts.
”If we do not build those institutions of the rule of law, discipline, prevention of violence, we will always fall prey to the gun, to the power of those who don’t want to follow and use the bullet to hold hostage the government. And they say ‘I don’t wanna follow you give me what I want or else I’m gonna shoot’”
“We cannot have that state of affairs anymore,” he said, adding that “in order for us to call ourselves a country, we have to have the ability to say ‘I can protect you.’ You may disagree but then again the rule of the majority (must) be (kept) sacred and must be protected.”
Teodoro said peace “doesn’t always happen naturally and spontaneous. You must enforce it.”
”You have to deter those who may want to spoil the peace for whatever selfish ends and the strong armed forces and strong police force are the only ones that should be armed in any society. That is the best investment that your state could make,” he stressed.
In an interview after he delivered his speech, Teodoro told MindaNews that what he is pushing for doesn’t mean employing more police and military personnel and buying more armaments.
“It means more structural than that. We must build the political structures of our country, foundations, citizens’ participation, the pillars of society. Get the foundations of society back,” he said.