Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Mindanao Peace and Security Summit - July 10, 2007

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
July 10, 2007— Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines
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To my fellow Mindanaoans, daghang salamat sa inyong pagtambong dinhi.

We are here together because we must work together from day one to ensure that we respect the rights of our citizens.

We must invest in peace and order. Crime is down in the nation because we have made the investments to put more policemen on the street.

Our military must continue on its path to reform. They must become even more professional every day at the same time they fight to eliminate the armed terrorist threats to the nation from religious extremists or communist terrorists. Whatever ideology is being pursued that undermines our stability must be defeated.

Hand in hand with the need for economic prosperity is the need to strengthen our institutions of government to ensure that civil rights and social justice are available to all Filipinos, not just a privileged few. We must weed out corruption, stop political violence and build a strong system of justice that people can trust.

Political violence has been with this nation for way too long. Among our ranks here in this Summit, friends and colleagues have been gunned down in spurts of mindless violence. Spikes of election and political violence, while down, remain too high. Even one death is one death too many for the people who are fighting to be a part of our democratic society.

This violence extends to the men and women in the media who have put their lives on the line to do their job. We must protect our journalists from violence just as we must protect all innocent civilians.

The political terrorists who live outside the boundaries of human justice and who have marked the stability of our nation and the rule of law for extinction live by no moral code. They lack all humanity and concern for the people.

We must all band together as a people and as public servants to stop this violence once and for all. We plan to introduce into the new Congress sweeping legislation that will transform our nation’s response to political violence and remove this stain from our nation. Legislation that will guarantee swift justice through more funding for special courts to prosecute human rights violators. We will strengthen the rights of victims, including more money for enforcement. We will impose tougher penalties for human rights violators and for anyone committing a crime with a firearm.

If you are armed and kill innocent civilians, you will be tracked down and prosecuted. If you are a communist terrorist, we will stop you. If you are a religious terrorist, we will stop you. If you are a rogue element of our own police or military, we will stop you.

I have the deepest respect for our military and police institutions as do most Filipinos. We want our nation safe. We trust our men and women who put their life on the line everyday to protect our nation and our communities. Ninety-nine percent of these hard working and patriotic men and women love this nation and abide by the rule of law.

Yet for our public servants in uniform, fidelity to the Constitution is a sacred duty. These public servants have a moral obligation to uphold the Constitution and to protect the innocent. For this reason, any violent crime that a member of the law enforcement or military community may commit against innocent people is even more wrong and must be stopped. No one is above the law.

We are entering a new era of civil and human rights. The front line of this effort is built on lifting up our poor and liberating them from poverty. That is the most fundamental human right – to live in dignity free from the fear of hunger and want.

No less important is to bring political stability to every region so that our people can live in peace, free from the fear of harassment, kidnapping and plunder that are so often part of the communist terrorists who flog a failed ideology. The civil rights of our people will be upheld as we tie down and eliminate enemies of peace and prosperity.

There is a fundamental difference between those who take up arms and those who take to the ballot box. Our government will protect the political rights of any person who wishes to participate in our democracy however we might disagree on philosophy and approach. We cannot stand idly by, however, and let the purveyors of violence cloak their agenda behind the innocent men and women they hold hostage to their failed ideology. We will wrestle with these failed terrorists to the ground and free the nation to live in peace and harmony.

This nation will not be complete until we bring peace to Mindanao. Our Muslim brothers and sisters have been working in good faith with our government for many years. We are on the cusp of a permanent peace. The process we have employed has been gaining the attention of the world. We have created a Philippine model for reconciliation that is built on interfaith dialogue, the building of roads, bridges and schools and investments to build up the local economy. The hard power of our military presence is merely to isolate the violent terrorists while our soft power of seeing to the people’s needs is expanding the peace every day. Peace and order will prevail over violence and chaos in the Southern Philippines.

I am hereby ordering the increased security of vital power and transportation facilities in Mindanao. Let us begin the implementation of the Human Security Act by using it as a tool to prevent multi-billion-peso hydroelectric dams and power grids from being whacked by terrorists. The people have a civic and collective duty to protect essential infrastructure which their taxes paid for.

Our community assets are at stake. We will suffer blackouts or erratic cellphone signals if these conveniences are disrupted by terrorism. Pag walang koryente, walang trabaho. The Human Security Act is about defending our way of life.

Equal to our determination to eliminate violence and suppress the violent is our determination to lift up the nation to a brighter future.

Let us strive to create a mass movement of Mindanaoans actively engaged in fighting crime, terrorism and poverty.

Speech from http://www.op.gov.ph/speeches.asp?iid=1073&iyear=2007&imonth=7.