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Philippine Army to involve religious leaders in ELCAC campaign

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, October 11 (PIA) -- The country’s security forces plan to involve the religious leaders in Negros Island in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign and partner with them in echoing the state’s appeal to members of Communist-Terrorist-Groups (CTGs) to peacefully surrender and return to the folds of law.

This was announced by top officials of the Philippine Army (PA) during a press conference on October 10, 2023 in Bacolod City.

The Army officials also highlighted the different atrocities committed by CTGs in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental provinces.

Philippine Army Commanding Officer of the 3rd Infantry Division based in Jamindan, Capiz, MGen. Marion Sison, disclosed that they already sought the guidance of Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos on how to push local peace engagement between the government and the Church.

“Ang sabi ko po sa kanya tulungan niyo kami mapalakas ang local peace engagement, local peace dialogue dahil ayaw po namin na makikipagbarilan, makikipag-away, sa ating mga kapwa Filipino (I asked him to help us intensify our local peace engagement and local peace dialogue because we don’t want to exchange bullets or fight with our fellow Filipinos),” Sison said.

“Tulungan niyo po kami na makipag-usap ng walang putukan, walang armas upang sa ganoon mas makita at malaman natin kung ano ang mga dapat pang gawin para sila, an gating mga kapatid na nasa bundok ay bumaba na.  What we need is communication (Help us talk to them without gunfire or arms so that we’ll know what needs to be done so that our brothers in the hinterlands will surrender. What we need is communication),” Sison added.

Major Gen. Marion Sison, commanding officer of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, speaking during a press conference held in Bacolod City on Oct. 10, 2023, where he Announced that that they will involve the religious sector in the government's peace campaign. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental)

Sison reiterated that community stakeholders, including the religious sector, have a vital role in the success of the government’s peace campaign and in the "whole of government" approach in solving insurgency.

In Negros Oriental, Commanding Officer of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Tanjay City, BGen.Joey Escanillas, said there are also plans to replicate the same move in the province, and they are seeking an audience with Diocese of Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes.

“We have set an appointment with the bishop probably within this week or next week depending on his availability. We will do the same undertaking with the religious sector in (Negros) Oriental,” he said.

It was disclosed in the press conference that the CTGs operating in Negros Island under the Komiteng Rehiyon Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Siquijor have stalled progress and development in the island by committing various atrocities in different towns and cities in the two provinces. 

Between January 1, 2022 to date, the CTGS have perpetrated 51 violent incidents, which resulted to the death of 34 civilians, five soldiers, four barangay officials, and one policeman, according to records from the Philippine Army. 

They also lost three members during these incidents.

Of the 51 incidents, 47 of them were liquidations, three were burning incidents, and one ambush.  

Commanding Officer of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Tanjay City, BGen. Joey Escanillas, responding to a question raised via teleconferencing by a member of the Dumaguete media during the press conference on CTG Atrocities in Negros Island on October 10, 2023 in Bacolod City. (Screenshot from PA 3rd ID Facebook Page)

Army officials underscored that it is time for CTGs to stop committing these atrocities and the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF ELCAC) is a good mechanism to address the root cause of insurgency in a peaceful manner.

They also reiterated that government agencies comprising the task force, as mandated by Executive Order 70 of then President Rodrigo Duterte, should be active in their role in this undertaking.

Earlier, Escanillas made a call to Negros Oriental mayors to lead in the anti-insurgency efforts in their localities. 

Ecanillas said the LGUs and the mayors should lead the efforts to ensure the safety and the well-being of their constituents by implementing the delivery of basic services and anti-poverty or development programs. (RAL/PIA7 Negros Oriental) 

About the Author

Roi Anthoni Lomotan


Region 7

Roi Anthoni Lomotan is an Information Officer at Philippine Information Agency (PIA) - 7. He is currently based in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. His job at PIA includes covering general beat assignments and other important events in the province.

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