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Over 800 youths gather for Panay Peace Summit 2022

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) 6, in partnership with the Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 and the Army’s 301st Infantry Bayanihan Brigade, conducted the Panay Peace Summit 2022, Dec. 3, at Iloilo National High School, here.

In a press release of the 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, the summit was a joint initiative of the RTF-ELCAC 6 through the efforts of Prosecutor lawyer Flosemer Chris I. Gonzales, chairperson of the Legal Coordinating Cluster (LCC) and Joint Focused Legal Action Team (JFLAT) 6, together with PRO 6 led by Police Brigadier General Leo M. Francisco, the 301st IBde led by BGEN Marion R. Sison, and the local government units.

This activity with the theme “Naghili-ugyon nga Panaynon para sa Kalinong" (Unified Panay for Peace) aims to promote the primacy of peace and end insurgency in the country.

A total of 881 youths from different provinces in Panay Island gathered at the said venue composed of 371 Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) members, 299 Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets, 169 Youth for Peace Movement (YFPM) members, 100 Sentrong Alyansa ng Mamamayan Para sa Bayan (SAMBAYANAN) youth, and 41 indigenous peoples (IPs) youngsters.

During the activity, RTF-ELCAC 6 launched Local Peace Engagement which was attended by 58 participants from Tubungan town in Iloilo, New Washington in Aklan, and the province of Capiz.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 6 led by Regional Director and lawyer Carmelo Nochete distributed gift packs to all the attendees of the summit.

Also present at the said event were 3ID commander and Acting Visayas commander Major General Benedict M. Arevalo, Area Police Command (APC) Visayas commander PLTGEN Patrick T. Villacorte, PNP chief PGEN Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr., National TF-ELCAC Secretariat executive director retired LTGEN Emmanuel Salamat, DSWD Undersecretary for Inclusive and Sustainable Peace Alan A. Tajunsay, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) 6 regional director Pricilla A. Escobin.

Meanwhile, Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. expressed his support for the activity through a message read by DILG Undersecretary for Peace and Order Oscar F. Valenzuela.

Relissa S. Lucena, founding president of the Yakap ng Magulang Movement Inc., a group of parents whose children were recruited by front organizations of the CPP-NPA, and SAMBAYANAN chairperson Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz served as resource speakers, who expressed their alarm over how the idealism and dynamism of the terrorist groups were

capitalized to encourage armed struggle against the government and how they were recruiting the youth.

On the other hand, former rebels Jiesel "Ka Rachel" Castin and Alma L. Gabin shared their testimonies and experiences of how they were recruited and deceived by the front organizations of the CPP-NPA. With this, they encouraged the public, especially the youth, to take part in nation-building and be part of the solution in achieving long and lasting peace.

In his message, Arevalo enlightened all attendees of the consequences of joining the armed struggle against the government.

"I am appealing to everyone, especially the remaining members of the CPP-NPA and their supporters, to abandon the armed struggle and return to the fold of the law, embrace the importance of peace, and avail the government’s aid,” he said.

Arevalo also challenged the youth to become an asset of change because they are the leaders of tomorrow and their commitment is much required.

Highlighted during the one-day peace summit was the releasing of doves which symbolized peace. (JBG/FRG/PIA6/Story and photos from 3ID-PAO)

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Franz Remar Garion

Region 6

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