Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged the government to make the poverty alleviation programs in Mindanao as its first line of offense in the pursuit of permanent peace in Mindanao.
He pointed out that in order to effectively achieve the President’s goal of all-out justice in response to recent clashes between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), an all out war against poverty must be won.
“Many individuals join insurgencies because they are hungry and have no jobs. So let’s serve them social justice initially through poverty alleviation projects and employment opportunities. This way we lessen the numbers who support the rebellion,” he said.
The senator also pointed out that government should go after the unscrupulous businessmen who exploit causes of insurgencies to make their profit.
“An all-out offensive for justice should include the identification of these people and remove them from the areas of conflict,” he said.
“What we need to do is not to bring out the guns for an all-out war but rather to set clear-cut goals to end insurgency at its root which is to address poverty,” he added.
Cayetano also expressed his confidence in the capability of the AFP and the President to weather the difficult situation today.
“I think we have a very sober leadership in the AFP that’s very capable of dealing with both the emotions and the politics of the situation. I am also sure that the President will not leave this undone,” he said.
However, he was quick to caution civilian authorities to be very sensitive to the plight of the soldiers when exercising their leadership in this situation.
“We’re talking about the lives of our soldiers here. So first and foremost, protect the lives of our soldiers. Never go into a ceasefire if the lives of our soldiers will be at risk,” he said.