Ramos-Horta: Only Filipinos can do it

www.inquirer.net, 16 January 2009


DAVAO CITY – “No outside mediators, not the Malaysians, not the Indonesians can find peace for Filipinos,” Timor Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta said. “Long lasting peace can be attainable in the Philippines but only the Filipinos can do it.”

Horta, who delivered a lecture at a university here Wednesday, said that peace is possible whether in Gaza, in Burma or in the Philippines if people are willing to reflect on how conflict began and be open for dialogs.

“First, listen, listen and try to imagine being a Palestinian, maybe we ourselves continue to raise people who fly rockets in the neighborhood,” he said.

Peace rhetoric

“If state actors and non-state actors are not sincere in their beliefs, if we are not all committed to step back with humility and reflect (on) the mistakes of the past and the situation that led to this conflict, if we don’t do that, then lasting peace remains a rhetoric, a dream, it will not be realized,” Horta, a Nobel Laureate for Peace in 1996, told a hall full of students and press people at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Horta, whose family had once been a Portuguese exile during the struggle for independence in East Timor, was thankful for the Filipino People Power that ousted former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 for inspiring people around the world who are still struggling for independence.


“I’d like to tell you, don’t underestimate the hope you’ve generated (by the people power revolution) that change is possible,” he said.

He amused students and teachers by saying that Filipinos have been found all over the world as missionaries, priests, development workers (including overseas contract workers) and that they’ve often been a very resourceful and creative people.

He said that the same creativity and resourcefulness that gave rise to Edsa people power can also be applied to bring the elusive peace in Mindanao.

“Filipinos, I observe, have always something on the side, apart from their current jobs,” he said, drawing amused chuckles from his audience, “They also sell clothes, shoes, they’re very resourceful, creative and enterprising.”

“This creativity has made the Filipinos the first Asian country to oust a dictator,” he said. “You, brilliant, creative, resourceful and enterprising Filipinos, the fate of your country, of Southeast Asia, is in your hands.”

Civil society peace advocates have urged both the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to draft the services of Ramos-Horta as mediator in the Mindanao peace process.

Augusto Miclat, executive director of nongovernment group Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), said Ramos-Horta had expressed to them his willingness to take the role if invited.

In a press statement obtained by the Inquirer, Miclat said he had already relayed this to both the government and the MILF.