Bantay Bayanihan-NegOr reiterates stand on Mamasapano clash

By Roi Anthoni Lomotan

TANJAY CITY, Negros Oriental (PIA) – The Bantay Bayanihan –Negros Oriental chapter reiterates its stand on the Mamasapano issue in a meeting with officers of the 302nd Infantry Brigade (IB) and members of the local media at Camp Leon Kilat, Tanjay City, Negros Oriental today.

(L-R) Marietta Jambora, lead convener of Bantay Bayanihan in Negros Oriental, Col. Allan Martin, 302nd IB Commander and Lt. Col. Harold Pascua, commander of 79th Infantry Battalion based in Siaton during the Bantay Bayanihan meeting at Camp Leon Kilat, Tanjay City on April 9. (PIA7-NegOr)
(L-R) Marietta Jambora, lead convener of Bantay Bayanihan in Negros Oriental, Col. Allan Martin, 302nd IB Commander and Lt. Col. Harold Pascua, commander of 79th Infantry Battalion based in Siaton during the Bantay Bayanihan meeting at Camp Leon Kilat, Tanjay City on April 9. (PIA7-NegOr)

Bantay Bayanihan-Negros Oriental member Vic Somoza read the organization’s official statement over the issue before the participants of the meeting.

Somoza echoed the organization’s January 31 statement that the Bantay Bayanihan “condemns in the strongest possible terms the acts of violence committed during the fateful incident in Mamasapano last January 25.”

“As a civil society network concerned with peace and security, Bantay Bayanihan calls for sobriety in the pursuit of justice and in upholding the peace,” Somoza adds.

To recall, about 44 policemen of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) were killed after an 11-hour firefight with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

These deaths were result of an alleged failed operation by the police to capture Malaysian fugitive Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan” and his Filipino companion Basit Usman.

Somoza says the organization suggests a fair, credible and thorough investigation on the matter conducted by an independent third party or non-partisan fact-finding body.

Bantay Bayanihan also expects accountability and transparency from all parties involved in the issue by closely following the investigations that will transpire. The group also demands justice for the victims of violence as well as for their families and respective communities.

With this incident, Bantay Bayanihan reaffirms its commitment to end violence and uphold the primacy of the peace process as well as its call for justice.

Bantay Bayanihan also has an appeal to members of the media to share evidence-based materials and refrain from fanning flames of violence through sensationalism and let responsible journalism allow the truth to prevail.

Lastly, the group also wishes for a stronger participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in dialogues with security forces and other stakeholders for peace and security to produce progressive actions towards lasting peace.

“Peace without justice is not only false, futile and a sham. It will not lead to genuine healing. We call for unity to dispel the discord and doubt that seriously threaten the conditions for peace,” Somoza read the group’s statement.

With this, Bantayan Bayanihan said peace efforts will intensify and violent acts would soon end.

“There is no gain in calling for more bloodshed to avenge the fallen heroes and warriors, especially when more lives may be endangered by perpetuating the cycle of violence. Amidst the grief, let this tragedy stimulate a stronger commitment and renewed fervor in working for peace,” he concluded.

Bantay Bayanihan is a network of more than 150 CSOs in 16 conflict-affected provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The gathering of Bantay Bayanihan members with the officers of the Philippine Army based in Negros Oriental and members of the local press also focused on current security situation in the province and a feedback on the recent Periodic Campaign Plan Assessment done at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command (AFP-CENTCOM)  in Cebu City.

Bantay Bayanihan-Negros Oriental Chapter lead convenor Marietta Jambora said the AFP-CENTCOM lauded the 302nd IB for conducting Internal Peace and Security Plan which enhanced the performance of military personnel particularly those involved with peace stakeholders.  (mbcn/ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA website on April 9, 2015)

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