As the country deals with various conflicts, is it high time for a Department of Peace?
The Arroyo lawmakers think so.
Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are pushing for the passage of House Bill 5106, which seeks to foster lasting peace throughout the country through the creation of a peace department.
Under HB 5106, which was filed in August last year and now remains pending with the House Committee on Government Reorganization, the proposed department will implement plans and programs that will promote non-violent and non-killing principles.
“The department shall encourage the development of initiatives from local communities, religious groups, and non-government organizations towards peace and represent and negotiate on behalf of government's interest on matters pertaining to peace, understanding and cooperation in local and international bodies,” the younger Arroyo said in a statement.
There will also be an Advisory Council for Peace to be composed of the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to be chaired by the Secretary of Peace.
The said council will report and advise the President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, and make recommendations about affairs and policies relating to peace.
“In any case in which a conflict between the Philippines and any foreign government or entity is imminent or occurring, the Secretaries of National Defense and Foreign Affairs shall consult with the Secretary of Peace concerning non-violent means of conflict resolution,” a provision in the bill reads.
The mother and son stressed that despite the Philippines’ great potential in tourism, the country’s image remains to be tainted by conflicts with the enemies of the state.
“The decades-old armed conflicts continue to prevent us from achieving our goal of promoting the Philippines as a safe and secure place for both local and international tourists,” Dato said.
"We should therefore come up with a lasting solution to our age-old problem of deep conflict and ensure the success of the country's peace process. One logical move is to create a national agency that will focus on strengthening the building blocks for lasting peace," he added.