Peace rally

Simultaneous Mindanao-wide gathering aims to end conflicts

MULTI-SECTORAL peace rallies are set to be held today in key areas of Mindanao to call for the immediate cessation of conflicts and to encourage remaining Communist rebels to go back into mainstream society.

The simultaneously rallies will be conducted in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Butuan, Tagum, Mati, and Davao.

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said security measures will be in place at the rally venues.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, EastMinCom chief, has directed his subordinate units to extend assistance and secure the Multi-Sectoral Peace Assembly Rally.

In the directive, the military units were directed to coordinate with the organizers, respective Philippine National Police (PNP) counterparts, and the concerned Local Government Units to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of the activity and mitigate the inconvenience that it may cause to the public.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, also said they are expecting around 5,000 participants in each rally point.

Lamosao said former rebels will be in rally, which aims to show support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to obtain peace.

Last January, a peace rally was staged following the surrender of 290 former members of the New People’s Army’s underground mass organization on December 28 to 29 in Barangay Araibo, Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

The group marched around the barangay with the participants raising placards that stated, among others, “No to Communism,” “No to ceasefire violation,” “Yes to Democracy,” “We Love Peace & Justice,” and “No to Terrorism.”

Prior to the peace rally, the former NPA members underwent a two-day debriefing by the 66th Infantry Battalion.

Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, the 66th IB commander, told TIMES that the activity was intended to “de-radicalize” the surrenderers and allow them to integrate back into the society.

Lectures were also given by the different sectors of the government to educate and inform the rebel returnees of the government’s plans and programs.

Likewise, team-building activities were also conducted for the returnees to feel that they form a significant part of the community.

Parungao expressed his gratitude on the support extended by the local government of Pantukan through Mayor Roberto Yugo and other partner agencies for the success of the peace rally and the live-in seminar.

“This is not for us, but for our brothers and sisters in barangay Araibo,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the 10ID, said they appreciate “the peace initiatives of the local government and our units involved in pursuing peace.”

“With these former members of CPP-NPA-NDF conducting peace rally and the community as well, it is just a matter of time that all the people will come together and denounce NPA atrocities,” Clement said.

“We call (the) citizens to unite against the anti-people NPA extortion gang disguised as revolution,” he added.