Expanded coverage of peace, security program pushed PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 June 2013 17:37

Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay — In line with the planned expanded implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Program (IPSP), the Bantay Bayanihan Western Mindanao Cluster opened another door for a wider coverage in the area of Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur when it held a round table discussion with the stakeholders of peace in Ipil and nearby municipalities last May 30 at Casa Mea Hotel, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Bantay Bayanihan is a convergence of civil society organizations (CSO) and the academe whose primary role is to act as the oversight monitoring body for the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ IPSP as a way to win peace in the conflict-prone communities in the country.

The peace stakeholders who were present during round the table discussion were Ipil Mayor Edwin M. Alibutdan representing the Local Government Unit (LGU), Major Edmond P. Abella of the Army’s 102nd Brigade representing the security sector (military), Supt. James A. Turbela of the Philippine National Police (PNP) also representing the security sector, Br. Roland V. Pontevedra, SVD and Pastor Gomer T. Senturias both representing the religious sector, Flavilla R. Randon representing the academe, Glenda B. Papa of the Department of Agriculture representing the government line agency and Gualberto F. Largo representing the CSO and others coming from the different areas of Zamboanga Sibugay.

Dr. Grace J. Rebollos, the Regional Bantay Bayanihan Convener for Western Mindanao Cluster, said during the presentation that “while the military has IPSP, we as CSOs and academe have the Bantay Bayanihan as their guardian angel to ensure the full implementation of the program.”

The IPSP was created in 2011a s a program of the AFP to shift their operation from combat to peace and development initiatives as a medium to win the peace in some troubled areas and to gain trust and confidence from the civilians.

“We can join hands with the military to ensure peace,” said Dr. Rebollos who is also the vice-president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), which is the Regional Secretariat of the Bantay Bayanihan Western Mindanao Cluster.

Rebollos said during the presentation, the Bantay Bayanihan will attempt to “help transform or reform the military to be more transparent and strengthen the commitment of the institution to the rule of law.”

The Bantay Bayanihan will conduct fora where it will serve as a venue for discussion on IPSP issues and related concerns especially in the non-combat or combat aspect of the IPSP plan. It will also work for the institutionalization of the active partnership of civil society and other civilian stakeholders.

The military, for their part, has reported to the stakeholders its ongoing peace interventions in the community.

Major Abella, Executive Officer of the 102nd Brigade, said his unit is conducting several programs and projects in the different communities in Zamboanga Sibugay areas.

“The Bayanihan Team Operation had engaged the barangays to conduct civic-military operation such as the establishment of the barangay-based livelihood projects like setting up barangay cooperatives and the sustainable agriculture,” Abella said.

“We have constructed and repaired the basic infrastructures for development to name a few, building the barangay irrigation system and barangay potable water system,” he added.

One of the immediate concerns in Zamboanga del Sur is Bayog municipality, where killing incidents are alarmingly high.

“We consider many motives why these killings are rampant in Bayog. We see it as political or related to mining and personal as well. We cannot do anything because the residents there don’t cooperate with the authorities,” said PNP Chief of Operation Supt. James A. Turbela.

Last March, the Bantay Bayanihan also convened with the peace stakeholders in Isabela City, Basilan. — Albert F. Arcilla/Peace Advocates Zamboanga