To tackle peace-building initiatives in the Municipality of Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate on Executive Order 70 to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), the Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” Battalion (53IB) in partnership with Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Government held a Peace-Building Forum at Camp Major David Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur on April 8, 2021.
The forum, attended by Barangay Tigbao Officials, included the presentation of ELCAC Road Projects updates delivered by 53IB Charlie Commanding Officer 1Lt Jonathan Cernitchez, E.O. 70 presented by PTF-ELCAC ZDS Alternate Focal Person Chrisjoe Morales, lecture on Anti-Terror Law by the ZDS Provincial Legal Council Atty. Jose Ruel Saniel and lecture on Good Governance led by ZDS Provincial Planning and Development Officer Meriline Locson.
The program also included testimonies from Barangay Lisson Valley Chairman, Pagadian CityJoel Babayson, Sambayanan Regional Chairman Rev. Dr. Albert Tiondo, and selected former NPA rebels.
“As I was observed, there are now a lot of rebels who came down from the mountains and have decided to come back to the folds of the law. We can see that they are now aware that they are not forgotten with the government’s various projects and programs initiatives in order to provide the needs and financial assistance to former rebels who are dreaming for peaceful lives.” Tigbao Mayor Eleazar Carcallas said.
“I am very thankful for President Rodrigo Duterte in issuing E.O. 70. I can personally say that it is so effective because we have now a lot of former rebels who surrendered. They have realized that it is so hard living against the government. My gratitude also to the Philippine Army’s extensive efforts toward a peaceful and secured province. I encourage all the Barangay Officials to be united in our goal for insurgency-free communities in Tigbao for peace and further development,” Zamboanga del Sur PTF-ELCAC Chairman Gov. Victor Yu said as Guest of Honor and Speaker.
“My greatest appreciation to Mayor of Tigbao and all barangay chairmen for their participation in this event especially to Lt. Col. Herrera for not getting tired of doing such activities in order to sustain peace and order in his area of responsibility. Our intensified operations against the CPP-NPA terrorists in the Province of Zamboanga del Sur bring us closer to truly peaceful communities toward progress. We are now focusing on development and peace-building and trying to lessen combat operations,” 102nd Infantry “IGSOON” Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas said.
“The Philippine Army is one with the Municipality of Midsalip in serving and taking care of the people. The absolute peace and order of the community would not be achieved by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) without the help of every barangay chairman. We advocate sustainment against communist terrorist groups. This forum brings up our united efforts on a shared responsibility toward peace and progress,” 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said.
Chief Police Tigbao, ZDS PMaj. Mario Regidor was also present during the forum.