Binalbagan Mayor Emmanuel Aranda called on the families and relatives of rebels, who are still steeped in the communist ideology, to persuade them to return them to mainstream society.
Aranda made the appeal Saturday as he led his constituents in welcoming participants in the Marching for Peace, Serving the Countrysides activity of the Provincial Peace,Integration and Development Unit, in Brgy. Bi-ao, Binalbagan.
Aranda said that genuine peace can be achieved by helping one another, rallied Binalbagan residents to support the peace and humanitarian efforts of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, the Philippine Army and the National Police.
Brgy. Bi-ao, that is classified by the military as an infiltrated barangay of the New People’s Army, was the venue for the 3rd leg of the 11-day Pro-PIDU activity, that was aimed to stop violence, protect the people, and develop the conflict-affected communities.
Residents of the Cabacungan and Puso Barangays in La Castellana, Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla had earlier availed of the free services rendered by various government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, civil society groups, Philippine Army and National Police during the Pro-PIDU - sponsored activities.
The Pro-PIDU activity, especially the marching of armed soldiers in the hinterland barangays and display of heavy armaments, was criticized by some groups, saying it creates fear among the people.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, described the peace effort as an election where people are free to choice between candidates “peace or violence”.
Gov. Alfredo Marañnon, who attended the Pro-PIDU activity in Brgy. Bi-ao,Binalbagan, and Aranda reiterated that the government is ready anytime to help rebels to return to the mainstream society.
“The real adversary is poverty and not our fellow Negrosanon. We must help one another to stop poverty,” Maranon stressed.
Soldiers and policemen have already walked almost 100 kilometers in the hinterlands of the 5th district, which aims to show that they are the legitimate armed forces of the people, who are ready to protect them at all cost.
The peace activity will again converge in Brgys. Buenavista and Carabalan, all in Himamaylan City, this week. * GPB
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