'We need prosperity to sustain peace'
BULACAN, Philippines – Despite the highly-competitive industry of business, wealth generation has a big role in peacemaking, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr said.
Peace, he said, is not the end, but just the first step.
"What is peace if people are poor, children cannot go to to school, if there is no food on the table? We need prosperity to sustain the peace. Generate wealth in countryside to ensure peace,” he said in a speech read by AFP Civil Relations Service chief Romeo Gan on Friday, October 3, at the second day of Gawad Kalinga's 2nd Social Business Summit.
Catapang said it is both peace and prosperity that establishes the groundwork for economic development in the country.
To date, 45 provinces have been declared peaceful and ready for development under AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.
The goals of IPSP Bayanihan include the political settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the defeat of terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf, and urging the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army to abandon armed struggle.
"The IPSP Bayanihan basically presents a choice between armed struggle, violence, and conflict on one hand, and peace and prosperity on the other.” he said, adding that the country needs passion and focus to bring prosperity to the countryside.
Culture of peace
But how can businessmen and social entrepreneurs contribute to peacemaking? It begins with sensitivity, said Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, the founder of the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement.
The organization promotes peace education among younger Filipinos to put an end to generations of conflict which has been a cycle in the country.
For example, Sumndad-Usman said Mindanao ranks as the second oldest internal conflict in the world.
“The culture of peace industry is about changing subjective conditions that breed conflict…One of things causing conflict is lack of knowledge of other people’s culture, religion. Businesses must study their market as far as sensitivity is concerned,” she added.
Here, inclusiveness comes in. To build a culture of peace, Sumndad-Usman said it will take more than just peace education. Even businesses must help institutionalize intergenerational peace economics.
"Through building a culture of peace, we can create such social entrepreneurs as peace heroes,” she added.
Coffee for Peace
In one of Davao City’s communities, coffee is at the centerstage of peace building.
"We cannot talk about peace without addressing the stomach. The practical side of peace is ‘fill my stomach’,” Felicitas Pantoja of social enterprise Coffee for Peace said.
Since coffee is very common in Mindanao, Pantoja and her husband Daniel started Coffee for Peace, which now benefits 17 tribes and 750 farming households.
Daniel said their coffee is two pesos more expensive than in most coffee shops because of fair trade, which considers local and international pricing, as well as processes given by farmers to produce coffee.
"We’re using our fair trade as expression of economic justice,” Felicitas said of their coffee, which has been graded as a specialty coffee.
She added: "If we teach our own people proper coffee plantation and process, we can meet international standards.” – Rappler.com
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