CAMP SIONGCO, Awang, DOS, Maguindanao— At least 53 former violent extremists have participated in a three-day peacebuilding training held in Brgy. Badak, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on August 21-23, 2022.
The activity, led by Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, aimed to promote peace and sustainable development as well as to prevent and counter violent extremism.
Getting to Know You, Highs and Lows; Fundamentals of Conflict, Violence, and Peace; The Islamic Concept of Wasatiyyah (Moderation); Building A Culture of Peace and Tools for Making Peace Work; and many more were among the activities.
MPOS Minister Hussein P. Muñoz emphasized that the activity will look into the factors that lead local insurgents to join violent extremist groups. “It will also identify potential areas where the Bangsamoro government can assist in transforming them into agents of long-term peace and development,” Muñoz said.
It was recalled that most of the participants were the returnees who voluntarily surrendered to the 1st Brigade Combat Team (1st BCT) led by their Commander, Colonel Leodivic B Guinid, wherein he insisted that the use of weapons is not a solution to any problem. “Let’s convey the message of peace to our colleagues and our relatives. Patuloy ang gobyerno sa pagtulong sa inyo sapagkat hindi dahas ang sagot sa paglutas sa problema bagkus dagdag pahirap lamang ang patuloy na paggamit ng armas,” Col. Guinid said.
In the aforementioned peace initiatives, the former rebels and the soldiers became friends. ‘Friends and not enemies’. This is how the former extremist groups now treat the soldiers they have become acquainted with during the three-day peacebuilding training.
“Before, the soldiers kept chasing us, but now they have become our friends. The continuous bombing of our lair and seeing my comrades die in the war and the daily suffering are some of the reasons why I return to the folds of the law,” said ‘alias Vanguard’, who had been a member of the BIFF-Bungos faction for four (4) years before he withdrew his allegiance to the said groups.
The Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General Eduardo Gubat, was the representative of the 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division and Joint Task Force Central Commander, Major General Roy M Galido. ADC stated that “living peacefully with your family is the real victory rather than exerting effort in an armed struggle.”
During the closing program, 53 FVEs received financial assistance of P10,000.00 each from MPOS-BARMM.