WHEN? 20 APRIL 2009
HOW LONG? From 1:28pm to 4:25pm
WHERE? Municipal Gym, Malapatan, Sarangani.
WHY? To clarify alarming military initiatives and restore harmony between the civilians and the military.
WHO? Complainants: Residents from Sitio Montilla, Sitio Makisama, Pag-asa, Lun Masla, Brgy. Lebe, etc.
Respondents: the Military led by Col. De Leon, CO 73rd IB.
Others: Vice Mayor George Sumbaga, Fr. Simon Alcarde, VF GAMMA, parish priest, Alabel; Fr. Frank Romano, parish priest, Malapatan; Kag. Fabian Algaran, Christians, Muslims, Lumads. Over 250. Only 158 registered.
Facilitator: Fr. Angelo Buenavides, representing Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez.
HOW? Focused, frank, objective, formal dialogue with ground rules, explained by the facilitator.
1. Conduction of survey by the military. What is the purpose? What are its scope and limitations? How come there is no formal survey form-but only yellow pad paper to record respondents’ answers? The survey sowed apprehension and fear among the respondents.
2. Holding “Pulong-Pulong”. What are the objectives? Are these objectives valid? Why only now? Why does the military discourage people from joining organization not registered with the SEC and/or DOLE? Why does the military brand some of being NPA supporters? What are the bases for calling them such? Will the “Pulong-Pulong” cover all the barangays in Malapatan?
3. Individual invitations. What are the reasons why some individuals are invited to the military quarters or their equivalent? Questions asked and manner of asking were threatening, judgmental, and with disregard of human dignity.
Some were forced to accept they gave a percentage of their cooperatives’ earnings to the NPA. The organization referred to is the Molo Farmers’ Association (MOFASO). Why were some of the invitees forced to sign on blank paper and their pictures taken?
Responses. All led by Col. De Leon.
1. Survey. There was no military survey. But surveys were conducted. Purposes: to know the residents; familiarize themselves with the area; to identify projects in the area; to find out the needs of the respondents in order to determine relevant projects; to know who owns the house and lot. Finally to find out how best to respond to calamities. Efforts were exerted to cover all the barangays, but their resources are limited. They also wanted to find out whether their organization is registered with SEC or DOLE; if not they would help in registering it. The use of yellow pad paper on which to write down the answers was due to limited budget. The military had no intention to sow fear among the respondents.
2. “Pulong-pulong”. The purpose is to know the concerns and issues in the community. Knowing the needs and issues will lead to better coordination and collaboration in responding to the community’s needs. Primary concern was focused on the NPA because elements of the New Peoples’ Army caused harm to the economy. They are anti-developmental..
3. Individuals were invited to clarify certain issues such as membership in the NPA or giving support to the NPA. Invitation was “voluntary”. Col. De Leon apologized for abuses committed by his men. He has the authority as battalion commander to discharge military personnel proven to have committed abuses.
Remarks from Col. Soriano, Deputy CO, 10002nd Bde. Surveys are needed to gather pertinent data. Pulong-Pulong and individual interview are used to clarify issues. Invitations are voluntary. Person invited may refuse. But better that he does not refuse. We know there are lawless elements around who do not want peace nor development. We need peace to entice foreigners to invest in our country.
Remarks from others
1. Vice Mayor George Sumbaga – Dialogue may bring solution to some local problems. Surveys are needed especially in times of calamity. Abuses by subordinates should be reported to their superiors with the necessary documents.
2. Fr. Frank Romano, parish priest. “This is just the beginning. He mentioned three steps in a program: 1) familiarization; 2) Pulong-Pulong; 3) reconciliation. Positive and negative effects of these activities. What is necessary is to build trust. It is a long way to develop trust. What we need is to be close to God. Then we shall have peace.
3. Municipal Kagawad Jeral Panyaman, Chair, Committee on Peace and Order. Dialogue is needed. If one knows how to ask for forgiveness, one must also know how to forgive.
Regarding mining Kag. Panyaman informed the assembly the Municipal Council of Malapatan approved the resolution prohibiting mining in Malapatan. He showed a copy of the approved resolution.
Fr. Buenavides, the facilitator and the reporter, exclaimed: Mabuhay ang Kapayapaan!
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 530, 02 May 2009)