The provincial government of Negros Occidental yesterday signed a memorandum of cooperation with a church organization and the academe, to strengthen the snowballing culture of peace and sustainable development based on the assessment of military and peace advocates.
The signing of the MOC held last night at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, aims to maximize the human and material resources for the promotion of peace.
It was signed by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr, Jacinto Pamine of the Pax Christi Negros, Rhoderick Samonte, director of the Institute for Negros Development and Dean Antonio Tibajia of the Pa Christi Institute, in the presence of Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental.
The memorandum states that the Pax Christi Institute will train people in conflict formation, Pax Christi Negros and the Institute for Negros Development will promote sustainable development and lasting peace, while the provincial government committed to continue promoting good governance and the culture of peace.
In his speech during International Peace Day celebration at the Capitol grounds last night, Marañon rallied Negrenses to sustain the peace advocacy campaign, and reiterated his appeal for members of the New People’s Army to abandon the armed struggle, and join him in the fight against poverty.
He said the 67 rebels, who responded to his call, have availed of livelihood and financial assistance from the provincial and national governments, to start new lives with their families.
Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra, in his message of peace, read by Fr. Ernie Larida, Social Action Center director of the Diocese of Bacolod, said there will only be peace if there is justice, equal distribution of wealth, food on the table, progress and development and recognition of the right to life, among others.
Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, Army’s 3rd Infantry Division commander, reiterated his call for the New People’s Army leaders in the region to heed the clamor of the people for a peace dialog.
Mabanta also reminded soldiers of strict adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and the international human rights law.
The Kilos Kapayapaan, a society of peace networks, including the Paghili-usa Sa Paghidaet-Negros, in its message read by Delia Locsin, urged the resumption of stalled peace talks between the National Democratic Front and the government as soon as possible, “without any precondition”.
Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, chief of directorial staff of the Police Regional Office 6, speaking in behalf of Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz, regional police director of Western Visayas, said that while peace remains elusive, it should be treated as a challenge on how overcome obstacles in achieving it.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that, based on the outcome of the five-day Peace Torch Relay in Negros Occidental, the peace advocacy campaign of the multi-sectoral groups, including state security agencies, is snowballing and continues to gain ground, with the participation of thousands of Negrenses.
He also cited the marked improvement in the relationship and coordination between the civil authorities, military and police, church, and civil society in the province.*GPB