Hopes up for peace tool being tested in RP

August 01, 2006
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Hopes up for peace tool being tested in RP
If this can work in the Philippines then it should work in Israel and Lebanon, too.The United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (Unicef) and the Australian Agency for International Development are in the middle of pilot-testing a series of teleconferences meant to foster peace and understanding between warring groups. “You have a country of 7,000 islands. If it can work in the Philippines that is (divided) by seas and ocean, it can work anywhere else,” said Robin Pettyfer, the lead coordinator of Peace Tech, a series of video conferences between soldiers, civil society, people’s organizations and even rebels from different parts of the country. “If this works in your country, we can do it in Israel and Lebanon, Iran and Iraq,China and South Korea and all the other areas where ther is prejudice,” he added in an interview with the INQUIRER. Peace Tech yesterday conducted its first session between two groups — both composed of sectors in the conflict — from Luzon and Mindanao. One group was at the University of the pHilippines in Diliman while the other was gathered in Cotabato. Yesterday’s session featured two young officers saying it hurts them to see civilians getting hurt in the armed conflict and a Moro Islamic Liberation Front ceasefire monitor stressing the need to solve the root cause of the conflict. There was also a Muslim peace advocate expressing outrage at teh sight of a newborn baby who was among those displaced when government troops bombed their village. “Peace Tech is relevant to the Philippines where geography restricts inter-group dialog. It gives young people in the remote areas an opportunity to instantly reach out, Pettyfer said. Aside from Unicef and Aus Aid, other groups involved are Assissi Development Foundation, formerly Tabang Mindanaw and Youth Aid.

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