By Claire R. Gigje
MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)–Firm about realizing its intent to clinch sustainable development in the entire region, the government has intensified further its move to finally put an end to any activity promoting uprising, and instill lasting peace to be relished by the entire constituency.
To materialize this, the Ministry of Public Order and Safety (MPOS) and 103rd Infantry Brigade teamed up with several private organizations, such as the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Strategic Communications and Capacity Building (SCCB) Project, to push for relevant interventions that would help cut the insurgency cases, particularly in Lanao del Sur province.
103rd Infantry Brigade Deputy Commander Col Billy Dela Rosa conveyed that he was personally willing to garner support for this selfless aim, especially since he has been witness to the struggles of the province since he was assigned to secure the place in 2014.
He mentioned that he could specifically attest to how the towns of Burig, Madalum, Pagayawan, and Piagapo suffered from pervasive lawlessness.
Some 131 former insurgents from different localities in Lanao del Sur province gather during the peacebuilding training organized by the government as part of its campaign to end insurgency. (MJP/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)
Dela Rosa stressed that from then on, he became an avid believer to the point that nothing could ever replace peace, thus, the great necessity for the populace to foster it.
“Walang substitute para sa kapayapaan. Hindi mabibili ang katahimikan. Huwag na nating bitawan ito. Ituloy na natin ang kapayapaan na minimithi at tinatamasa natin. With our partners, I am certain na marami tayong mararating,” he said.
(There is no substitute for peace. Tranquility cannot be bought. Let us not let go of this. Let us sustain the peace we have desired and are now enjoying. I am confident that, with our partners, we can achieve much more).
Following this, various efforts were launched, including a recent three-day peacebuilding training held from September 12 to 14 this year and participated by 131 former local insurgents from all over the province.
MPOS Director General Lawyer Al-Rashid Balt underscored that they have been conducting this so that returnees would have the opportunity to learn that a peaceful environment could lead to the desired progress.
Accordingly, such activity was piloted in 2021 wherein some 91 surrenderees of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and 293 of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) from Sulu and Maguindanao provinces received aid such as the bridging fund currently amounting to P10,000 for each target individual, and relief goods sponsored by other stakeholders.
Balt further emphasized that they look forward to amplifying this program by venturing into another aspect.
“May continuation ito kung saan mag-iengage kami ng livelihood training at baka pwede naming masuportahan ang communities,” he said.
(This program will continue focusing on providing livelihood training and exploring opportunities to support local communities).
Meanwhile, insurgents have earlier expressed that they were overwhelmed by the government’s determination.
“Importante ito kasi para sa amin, ito ay programang pangsuporta para sa aming returnees. Malaki ang pasasalamat namin. (This is important because for us, this is a program supporting us, returnees. We are grateful for this),” said alias Bikoy who was a former Dawlah Islamiya – Maute Group (DI-MG) member based in Butig town in Lanao del Sur province. (CRG/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)