The 11-day “Marching for Peace, Serving the Countryside” activities held in six conflict-affected communities in the 5th district of Negros Occidental, were described by organizers as “very successful.”
Local and national government officials, even those affiliated with different political parties, showed unity in pushing the peace and development initiatives, they said.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday that government officials headed by Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Rep. Alejandro Mirasol, mayors and barangay officials in the district were very cooperative in the six convergence areas that they attended, in “high spirits”.
Thousands from Brgys. Puso and Cabacungan in La Castellana, Brgy. Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla, Brgy. San Agustin in Isabela, Brgy. Bi-ao in Binalbagan, Brgys. Carabalan and Buenavista in Himamaylan City, received health-related services, and financial and livelihood assistance, among others.
These were was part of the peace and development activities, that were joined by non-government and people’s organizations, and religious sects, military records show.
Aying also noted the high acceptance of the people in the six convergence areas, where the presence of New People’s Army rebels has been reported, and the effort of the Provincial Peace, Integration and Development Unit, that spearheaded the activities, as well as the five priests who officiated at the masses.
Provincial Planning and Development Officer Maria Lina Sanogal, said the second edition of the project was warmly received by local government officials and the community.
Aying said one of the priests, who officiated at a mass even wanted to join the foot march. In their previous foot march at the ESTOCA (Escalante-Toboso-Calatrava) hinterlands, soldier and police participants travelled about 100 kilometers, in full battle gear.
The 11-day activities ended with a peace rally Thursday night at the Himamaylan public plaza. Aying said they will deploy Bayanihan Teams in the six areas to look into the situation of the conflict-affected communities, and identify people who need help from the government.
This will be followed by a grassroots development planning, which will be participated in by community leaders, who will identify and help find solution to the problems of their areas, with the help of multi-sectoral groups, he said.
The outputs will be presented to concerned government officials and agencies for implementation, Aying also said.*GPB
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