By TENG DATU
Cotabato City Bureau Chief
ZAMBOANGA City — Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza urged stakeholders to work on relationship building and healing the wounds and divisions brought about by the armed conflicts.
“I always say this before, and even now, I can build easily the [physical] structures destroyed by the [armed] conflict. I can also build the school buildings that were burned down. But building of the relationships, bringing back social cohesion, and mending the torn social fabric brought about the conflict takes time. The healing takes time,” Dureza said in his speech during the celebration of the country’s 119th Independence Day, here on Monday.
Dureza was in this city to represent President Rodrigo Duterte for the nationwide commemoration. He, along with Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, hoisted the Philippine flag and the laying of wreaths at the iconic Plaza Rizal, fronting the City Hall.
Dureza emphasized the very important process of healing amid the crisis in Marawi and the continuing recovery of Zamboanga City following the 2013’s siege.
“I see here in Zambo-anga, the healing process has already started. And we can see the results. This is principally due to the leadership of Mayor Beng and the city officials in cooperation with the military, police, and members of the different sector, and most especially the civilians,” Dureza said.
He noted that indications show that Zamboanga “is now moving forward. The city is already building torn relationships.”
The rehabilitation process “is not only to rebuild damaged physical structures in Marawi, but the most important task, which is not easy to do, is building back broken relationships and healing the wounds.”
“There is a strong need for social healing…and see to it that we don’t have a continuity of this conflict,” he said.
At the same time, Dureza reiterated the need to check “hatred and deep-seated biases” to advance the cause.
“When you say, ‘I’m going to help bring about peace’. I will ask you: are you at peace with yourself? Because if you have anxieties, angsts, and hatred, then you cannot radiate to others what you do not have. And that is the lesson that we should learn. Because you cannot give what you do not have,” he said.
Equally essential is the strong vigilance of the community to deny terror and extremist groups to set foot in their community.
“One vital measure is for the community to pass timely information to the authorities to prevent similar tragedies,” Dureza said, referring to the strong vigilance of the community in thwarting possible attack of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf Group in Bohol last April.
Dureza said healing and rebuilding relationships are among the major thrusts of the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser, which is tasked to address the underlying causes of the armed conflict in the country.