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Hopes and Challenges of the Bangsamoro: Towards Broadening a Peace Constituency

The peace constituency needs to go beyond Mindanao, into the halls of Congress and the Senate, into local and barangay councils in the Visayas and Luzon, in Metro Manila, into the board rooms of corporations, into the classrooms of universities and schools, into the consciousness of the MRT and LRT commuters, into mainstream news and talks shows and reflected even in the themes of soap operas and in the tills at the box office and into dinner and luncheon meetings and perchance flagship projects of Rotary clubs.

Jose Ramos-Horta on my mind

There was a time that His Excellency, Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste and Nobel laureate– was simply Jose to me.

I first met him over breakfast at a quaint hotel in Bangkok sometime in 1992. We were both attending a conference called “Peoples Plan for the 21st Century” that, well, wanted to chart a common framework for the broad social movement in the region at the dawn of the new millennium . He was there to speak on behalf of his forgotten people- some 600,000 East Timorese who were under the yoke of a then occupying force- Indonesia. A third of his people – around 200,000 – had been slaughtered, starved, killed or impaled by the military and police of the dictator Suharto who in 1975 sent in a Catholic army general to lead the invasion of this puny, gentle, territory.