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Message of Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles at the Awarding Ceremony of the EU Peace Journalism Awards July 10, 2015


From the Website of OPPAP
links:  http://www.opapp.gov.ph/news/message-sec-teresita-quintos-deles-awarding-ceremony-eu-peace-journalism-awards

Message of Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles at the Awarding Ceremony of the EU Peace Journalism Awards

Message at the awarding ceremony of the EU Peace Journalism Awards
Held at the InterContinental Hotel, Makati
By Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process,
8 July 2015


Assalamu alaikum. Ramadan Kareem. A peaceful evening to us all.

I would like to begin with a quote about peace from our beloved Lolo Kiko, His Holiness Pope Francis,  which comes from a message he delivered last year on May 28, 2014 at the St. Peter’s Square. (I quote) –

“Therefore, I exhorted the Christian faithful to allow themselves, with open and docile hearts, to be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, so as to be increasingly capable of acts of humility, fraternity and reconciliation. The Spirit allows one to adopt these attitudes in daily life, with people of various cultures and religions, ad thus to become craftsmen of peace. Peace is crafted by hand!
There are no industries for peace, no.
It is fashioned each day, by hand, and also with open heart so that the gift of God may come.”

Tonight, we will give due recognition to and celebrate people whom we consider as “craftsmen/craftswomen of peace” who, with their hands, hearts and minds, brought out stories that contributed to the triumphs of peace.

Tonight, we recognize and celebrate journalists who adhered to the highest standards of their craft.

Tonight, we affirm that peace can be won—not only on the negotiating table—but also through words, photographs, and the moving images of videos in the various media now available to us, listeners and viewers.

I extend my congratulations and appreciation to the European Union  Delegation in the Philippines and its partner organisations for affirming their long-standing commitment to the Philippine peace process by seeking to inspire Filipino journalists to be a positive force in conflict transformation—through their fairness, impartiality, and reliability, bolstered by their commitment to conflict sensitivity and peace promotion in their stories.

To the finalists and all who were part of this Awarding Program, thank-you.

Recognizing the good and the best, however, also means acknowledging the not-so-good. As we recognize the works that contributed to the promotion of peace, we also remember in contrast the stories that have impacted negatively on the gains of peace.

Certainly, not all stories which have been given space in media are like your peace stories.

We used to note what happened with the Al-Barka incident in 2011 as an example of the extent of the influence the media hold in terms of shaping mindsets and forming public opinion. This year, that example faded into the background, overtaken by what happened with the Mamasapano tragedy in January, 2015.

The situation we faced with the Mamasapano clash was a number of times worse than the Al-Barka incident, and the role of media, as recorded and reviewed, was also stronger in its intensity and frequency.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), in its comprehensive review and assessment of the media coverage of the Mamasapano incident, concluded that (I quote) “Misinformation and even disinformation, sensationalism, as well as lack of context characterized the coverage,” inflaming an already volatile situation that it, in fact, helped create.
Until today, there are many who continue to think that the ongoing peace process is at fault, turning it into a culprit that brought harm to the people it sought to protect. The incident opened a Pandora’s Box filled with deeply-held prejudice and antagonism against our Moro brothers and sisters.
But we have an opportunity to turn this around. The challenge now is to continue expand the discussion on the realities of conflict and broaden the options for peace. We again turn our sights to peace journalism.

Peace journalism is good and ethical journalism—it is both complete and unbiased, critical yet creative in bridging gaps caused by misunderstandings and differing perspectives, by shaping better public discourse and by breeding better decisions through truthful and insightful information.
Peace cannot thrive without the support of the people. And so we appeal that you, our friends from the media, to share our vision—for what we hope for transcends the now and aspires to offer a life free from harm, from fear, from prejudice for future generations. Help us tell better stories of hope and optimism, the resilience and determination to carve out a better future, that we are, in fact, witnessing on the ground.

Just last month, we witnessed 145 members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces turn over their arms to the Independent Decommissioning Body, as established under the Annex on Normalization. The number stands for more than statistics.  These are 145 narratives of peace, 145 voices saying ‘we have had enough of war and strife’; these are 145 promises that a better future lies  ahead for Southern Philippines and the generations to come.

The road to peace has been fraught with challenges, but there is no other way to it. We invite you, journalists, to continue being partners, to provide faithful and truthful accompaniment to the process until we succeed in our fight for peace. We invite you to persist in being craftsmen and women of peace, tp “fashion each day, by hand, and also with open heart” the peace that our people have long aspired for and deserve.

The prospect for a better future- for peace in the Philippines- is within reach. Let us stand together as we welcome a new dawn for the Bangsamoro and the entire Philippines.

Thank-you so much. Shukran. ###

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