The 1st National Peace Convention was held on January 25, 2023 with the theme, “Peace Builds One Nation, One Future: Peace is Here”, attended by over 1,500 peace advocates to build a holistic roadmap towards the attainment of national unity through peace in consonance with the Marcos Administration’s agenda.
Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Founding Chairman of Volunteer Individuals for Peace (VIP), spearheaded the event.
“We want peace to reign in our country. We want peace to be the language everyone of us will speak and every Filipino and every foreigner will understand. Today, let’s declare peace as a pandemic. Infect people not to rest in peace but to live in peace,” said Dr. Adamat.
Dr. Adamat is the first Filipino recipient of the prestigious Mahatma MK Gandhi Prize for Non-Violent Peace awarded last year in recognition of his contributions to peace-building including the higher education.
In attendance also was Chairman Lee Man-hee of Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a 92-year old Korean war veteran.
“Peace-building in Mindanao after conflict is becoming known worldwide. This is the case of transforming death into life for peace. Starting with Mindanao and the Philippines, when we unite in love, peace will come to our world. For this reason, everyone in the Philippines has to become one and work together as messengers of peace,” said Chairman Lee.
The two peace advocates first met in 2017 during HWPL World Peace Summit held in South Korea. As an expression of their shared commitment to promoting peace, CHED and HWPL signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 2018 to integrate peace education in the higher education curricula.
The convention commenced with the first Plenary Session followed by parallel sessions in the afternoon. The parallel sessions were conducted separately for five sector groups—lawmakers and non-government organisations, academia and youth, religious and ethnic groups, women, and media. Each session drafted a resolution which contained their solidarity with the organisers’ peace-building efforts.
The five resolutions were consolidated during the second Plenary Session to call for President Bongbong Marcos to proclaim January 24 as “National Peace Day” or “Truce Day”.
January 24 was proposed in commemoration of a civilian-led peace agreement signed at General Santos City in 2014 to boost reconciliation among the local communities. It was proposed by Chairman Lee to mediate between the existing conflict in Mindanao at the time. The date was later declared as ‘“HWPL Peace Day” by then-Maguindanao governor Toto Mangudadatu in 2015 and BARMM Chief Minister and MILF Chairman Ahod Ebrahim in 2016.
The organisers believe that the declaration of a National Peace Day shall be the mechanism by which every year, peace-related activities are observed and celebrated across the country.