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Sustaining the gains of peaceful Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY — The island of Mindanao recouped its notable prestige as the ‘Land of Promise,’ when President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued Proclamation No. 298 lifting the state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.

People of Mindanao welcomed the presidential proclamation, acknowledging the successful military and law enforcement operations and the implementation of programs that have played a crucial role in achieving sustainable and inclusive peace in the region.

The peace and development roadmap of the second largest island in the Philippines, Mindanao. (Photo: MinDA)

Secretary Maria Belen S. Acosta of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and several other Mindanao leaders thanked the Chief Executive for responding to their request and reverting the initial issuance.

“Together, we can now look forward to welcoming more tourists, attracting investments, and creating better economic opportunities - making Mindanao truly a fulfilled promise,” Acosta added.

Election, a barometer of peace

“Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

This famous adage is a good reminder to all Filipinos during election day. As a democratic country, Filipinos consider election as a significant event because this is when suffrage is exercised - the constitutional right to vote  for individuals or groups whom we believe will be effective leaders and will contribute to nation building.

An election is also a credible event that reflects the state of peace and order in Mindanao.  Given the diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds among the electorates, some of its local government units are considered high risk due to significant areas of concern. 

Caraga, reality check

Caraga Region is a cultural tapestry, as this is the home of several indigenous tribes including the Mamanwa, Manobo, Higaonon, and Talaandig who have survived the topography of the place as mostly mountainous areas, flat and rolling lands. This vulnerability gave ample room for insurgency to root well in the region for many decades.

The Manobo women, a dominant tribe in Caraga Region. Indigenous peoples in the region are mostly preys and victims of insurgency. (Photo: Bobby Lagas)

In the recent Regional Command Conference and Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) Reactivation for the upcoming October 30, 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Regional Office 13 presented its comprehensive evaluation of the peace and order situation of Caraga Region in relation to the history of previous elections and its current threat situation.

Accordingly, out of 1,311 barangays in the region, 1,165 are areas of no concern. However, 16 barangays are identified as areas of concern due to political rivalry and 130 barangays are with communist terrorist group (CTG) threats. The region has no grave area of concern.

The PNP has already prepared action plans prior to, during and after elections such as deployment of personnel especially in the areas of concern and collaboration with other agencies emphasizing the installation of radio repeater signals and radio communication equipment in far-flung areas and locations with poor connectivity. This is to ensure unhampered communication and relay of vital information.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on the other hand, is positive that the region will have safe and fair elections (SAFE) with its current and major accomplishment of neutralizing a top new people’s army leader in a clash with the government troops. The unfortunate death of this rebel leader added to the weakened manpower of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) at 65% by the second quarter of this year.

In addition, though still at large, the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) experienced the same downtrend of comrades at 68% for the same period.

The prime movers of the RJSCC as they mark their oath of commitment for safe and fair BSKE 2023. From left PNP Caraga RD Kirby John Kraft, COMELEC Caraga Regional Election Director, Atty. Francisco Pobe and 401st Brigade Commander of the Philippine Army, BGen. Francisco Lorenza Jr. (Photo: PIA Caraga)

The directors of the regional line agencies and chiefs of offices pronounced their message of support throughout the BSKE 2023 timetable. For one, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP)  guaranteed no power outage in the region.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) shared that out of 1,904 persons deprived of liberty (PDL), 789 are registered voters and will exercise their right to vote following the absentee protocol and schedule in their respective precincts.

To set a seal on healthy and emergency-prepared polling precincts, the Department of Health (DOH) will bring back its mobile medical team on election day to readily assist in any type of emergency, among others.

With the reactivation of the RJSCC for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) 2023, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga Regional Director Venus L. Garcia expressed her commitment of support, on behalf of the PIA Caraga team, to the members of the RJSCC and reassured that the Agency will continue to provide necessary communication support on pre, during and post elections, including the massive information dissemination and comprehensive coverage of this year's local elections.

"Our aim is to present the truthful, reliable, and most comprehensive scenario of the elections. We will also be mobilizing our provincial information center managers and coordinators across the region as we target clean, honest and violence-free elections," Dir. Garcia quipped.

Full support of the Carage regional line agencies to the BSKE 2023. (Photo: PIA Caraga)

The Caraganons have high trust in the prime movers of the RJSCC and in the rest of the frontliners for the conduct of the BSKE 2023 as they sincerely delivered their oath of commitment to quote, “to uphold the nation’s democratic  processes to the end that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) objective is successfully achieved, and that the right of the people is rightfully preserved and protected, and that their will is upheld at all times.”

This development in Mindanao is a positive indication of the country’s milestone against lawless  violence. With this, it is imperative that we exercise suffrage and we choose leaders with heart for peace. (RLE, PIA-Caraga)

About the Author

Venus Garcia

Information Officer V


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