Sunday, March 30, 2014

WesMinCom launches peace mural as NPA celebrates 45th anniversary

From the Zamboanga Today (Mar 30): WesMinCom launches peace mural as NPA celebrates 45th anniversary

A mural promoting peace and development was launched here Saturday, March 29, 2014, two days after the signing of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The public artwork was held at the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Calarian, west coast of Zamboanga City, in time the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army celebrated its 45th Anniversary on Saturday.

Earlier, Cagayan de Oro City,at least seventy two members of the New People’s Army (NPA) from Northern Mindanao and Caraga formally surrendered to the government at Camp Evangelista.

According to the reports, the surrender comes a day before the 45th Anniversary of the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Phillippines – and less than a week after two of the NPA’s top leaders were arrested.

The former rebels also surrendered 69 firearms which cost more than P2 million and as part of the AFP’s Gun for Peace Program, those who surrendered will be given financial help equivalent to the value of the firearm that they turned-over to the military, the report said.

Also on March 22, authorities captured CPP leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria in Cebu, while Andrea Rosal, another alleged CPP leader and daughter of former NPA Spokesman Roger Rosal, was also arrested Thursday night in Caloocan City.

Likewise, authorities on Thursday arrested another suspected communist leader — Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late rebel spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.

Hundreds of soldiers, navy men, policemen, peace advocates, students, youth, and civilian volunteers painted the perimeter walls of Western Mindanao Command headquarters along Calarian highway, in the bid to create awareness on peace and development through “bayanihan”.

The Western Mindanao Command public information office said the peace mural painting is part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ peace advocacy in collaboration with the national and local artists in the country, peace advocates Zamboanga and artists from the different universities.

“This is one form to promoting the ‘bayanihan’ through the peace mural painting,” said Marine Major Muella, WesMinCom information officer. “This is purely volunteerism with one goal which is to promote peace in the entire Mindanao.”

Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the mural is very timely as the government and the MILF just signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and for the peace they are espousing.

“Peace advocacy is one of our main thrusts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the ‘bayanihan’, hoping that our countrymen will see this especially by those who are still fighting it out and using the way of violence,” Guerrero added.

According to Guerrero, “This is in fact a long overdue project but because of the siege last September this was disrupted. The spirit of bayanihan or working together is what we are promoting here It’s a multi-stakeholder undertaking where all the stakeholders join together for one activity.”

One of the civilian volunteers in the mural painting took the opportunity to call on the government and the MILF, saying that “Our call, that is why, we are here in this mural painting not only to paint but to demonstrate to all that peace is everybody’s interest, concern.”

“If (peace) is the interest of all, everybody should participate so that our place will become peaceful. If a new government (in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ) is put in place, they (government and MILF) should see to it that their agreement is not only for leaders but also for grassroots,” said Mersia Alli, convenor of Tibuok Lupah Sug, a Sulu-based one network of the civil society for peace and unity.

Although she is hopeful and elated by the recent signing of peace accord between the government and the MILF, Mrs. Alli expressed doubts, saying what had happened with the 1996 peace agreement of the Moro National Liberation Front with the Philippine s government will be repeated.

“Hindi pa rin buo ‘yung belief namin sa agreement dahil hindi lang naman ito ang unang agreement mayroon agreement nuon with the MNLF, so medyo natatakot pa rin kami baka maging ganun din (Our belief to the agreement is still not full because this it not first agreement there was agreement before with the MNLF, so we are relatively afraid because it might be repeated again).”

Hence, Mrs. Alli said suggested with the hope that the people would realize from the lessons or experiences in the past especially what had happened with the ARMM and MNLF.

“We hope that before the term of President Aquino ends, the Bangsamoro politicial entity will be properly established because if there is a new president something might happen,” she continued. “We hope also that the government and the MILF won’t shortcut the process,” she further said.

“What we want also is that before the conduct of plebiscite, the people must be informed, educated well about the Bangsamoro government because the people still do not really understand the annexes and the CAB.”

Reacting to the massive proliferation of loose firearms, she said the government should invest more and focus on education of the people to address the problem. “We hope that problem on loose firearms will be given solution by the Bangsamoro government because it is the root cause of the conflict and criminality in the region.

“The gun culture exists in our society because the people don’t feel secured but if there is a safe and sound atmosphere, I think no one would like to carry guns,” she said.

For Dante Arboso, head of the Antipolo artists group, said they recommended to the event organizers that the art concept of the participants especially by the students and the youth art enthusiasts should be exposed on the walls of schools in Zamboanga to create awareness among the public.

“Ang pinaka maganda sa public art na ito ay iyung promotion sa kapayapaan sa lugar na ito na kung saan nagkaron ng kaguluhuhan, (What is really good in this publis art is the promotion of peace in this place, where a conflict occurred,” he said. “The art of participants here is actually the reaction of what happened during the conflict.”

Asked to comment on what situation he sees in Mindanao today, he said Mindanao is so vulnerable because of the existence of different armed groups, but what is important we have to be concerned about the next generation,, the people here needs unity for peace and development.”

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