Army execs reach out to bishop for peace in Negros Island

Top officials of the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division (ID) have reached out to San Carlos Diocese Bishop Gerardo Alminaza for strengthened collaboration in the peace and development efforts in Negros Island. In a report on Monday, the Army said Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3ID commander, led a courtesy visit to Alminaza at the Bishop's Home in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Sunday. Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said the bishop has expressed his intention to work with the military and noted that the root causes of violence must be addressed. 'I want to collaborate. I want it to be clear: I am not in favor of violence, but we must establish the foundation for people to live peacefully,' Alminaza was quoted as saying. 'We need long-term solutions, not just quick fixes, as the same problems persist from long ago. Allegations of abuse must be systematically investigated, balanced, and evidence gathered to establish the truth,' the bishop said. Javines said Alminaza also stressed the importance of dialogue in resolving conflicts as he clarified that he is 'not advocating armed struggle'. 'I can assure you, without hesitation, that I am not advocating for armed struggle. I am a proponent of the Christian faith, combining prayerful and proactive approaches, both spiritual and social,' the bishop added. At the end of the meeting, Alminaza led a prayer, seeking guidance as well as protection and safety for government troops as they carry out their duties to sustain peace and a strengthened bond between the security forces and the church. Sison assured the religious leader that the Church-Military and Police Advisory Group will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders to address security threats and challenges and tackle social issues that contribute to armed conflict. 'Our soldiers invest their lives in ensuring peace and security for all. I do not tolerate any violations of humanitarian rights. If such violations occur, I will ensure that those responsible are held accountable and subjected to investigation,' he said. During the courtesy visit, Sison was joined by Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin and Brig. Gen. Joey Escanillas, commanders of the 303rd and 302nd Infantry Brigade, respectively, and Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, commanding officer of the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB). The meeting came after six NPA rebels were killed in a clash with troops of the 47th Infantry Battalion in Kabankalan City in southern Negros on Sept. 21 and 12 communist rebels in northern Negros surrendered to the 79IB on Sept. 29.

Source: Philippines News Agency