Gina Lopez: End social injustice to bring peace to Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – "You know I think we can actually bring peace [to] Mindanao – is it really naive of me to say? But I really, really think we can do it."

For Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, peace will come once social injustice in the region is addressed. (READ: What drives Gina Lopez?)

"The reason is because Mindanao is rich in natural resources. The reason why there's angst like that is because of social injustice. And when I speak to the people in Mindanao, their hearts are just so easy to touch. And I feel that if we remove the social injustice and just converge and mobilize resources there, [peace will come]," Lopez said in a recent Rappler Talk interview.

Lopez, who comes from a prominent business family, considers Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and former New People's Army (NPA) members she has met as "really good people" who are, in fact, "better than some businessmen" who "just want to rape the country."

But promises of "making Mindanao good" should really be felt by the communities, Lopez said. For her, this means people in Mindanao should experience an improvement in their lives.

"You can't talk peace if there's rape going on and social injustice happening. Now [if only] you address the social injustice on the ground....I love the people in Mindanao," Lopez said. 

On July 18, President Rodrigo Duterte "approved in its entirety" a comprehensive peace roadmap which aims to bring peace and development by addressing the issue on the Bangsamoro and the resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Seven days later, during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), he declared a unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels "to immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks."

The truce only lasted 5 days, after the deadline on a reciprocal ceasefire declaration from the CPP lapsed without any action from the group. But the group said it is willing to issue a unilateral ceasefire on August 20 if the Duterte administration issues one too.

In his SONA, Duterte also called on the 17th Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law minus provisions that are highly contested. Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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