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Peace & progress in Basilan

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(BY: REV. BERLIE G. YAP) Barangay eMedia was invited amongst other media outfits—locally and nationally, in the hinterlands of the Basilan Province, particularly at the Municipality of Albarca, to witness the tripartite dialogue of the ARMM provincial government, the MNLF and the MILF for the peace of the Island and the security measures for the resumption of the temporarily halted road projects in Basilan because of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) attacking the constructors.

Reporters Ely Dumaboc and Joseph Zosobrado dared to cover the historic event. Barangay eMedia was able to secure raw footages of the said dialogue. Gov. Mujib Hataman was one of the catalysts of the dialogue, and of course the military who initiated the idea.

The leadership of the AFP eventually arrived to this cream move or strategy to actually win the province not by force but by the cooperation of the established and the respected strengths in the locality.

Without such endeavor, probably, endless bloodshed may still continue to mar the province. There how many AFP servicemen, from its engineering department, were slain recently because the ASG ambushed them! It is a shame for those same rebels who also are the very locals of the Island who can benefit the construction of the circumferential road which they attacked.

The dreaded bandit, in the dialogue was laid to be the very reason of the delay of the province’s infra projects. The State could not waste more days to wait for the good weathers for the circumferential road to resume.

Thus, were the recent efforts of the military and the ARMM provincial leadership of Gov. Hataman. Invited reporters around were tensed as they were unaware to what the dialogue would hold. But in fairness, it went really very well and fruitful.

The dialogue brought the agreement to the different factions to personally provide the necessary security to where the road constructions will reach. If it will fall close in proximity of the MNLF camp they will shield the military’s engineering department, same shall be to the MILF also.

The Albarca Mayor himself as well expressed in behalf of his constituents that they too are already tired of the constant evacuation, times military operations are expedited in their locality. Beside to it, they already are also very hungry to see real developments to land to their place. Everyone is now very willing to cooperate in the name of the illusive progress and peace.

The dialogue left priceless joy and laughter for the different local stakeholders around. Taking into account that Albarca is rich to natural resources, its soil is extremely fertile, and the residents’ farms are yielding good produces, though their only problem is their accessibility to the market, because roads are way kilometers yet.

This is the same circumferential road the government, through the military, is constructing for the island, however the ASG is against it. They don’t want progress to reach their lairs, lest they lose their holds from their supporters. What kind of a philosophy does this kind of stock have, they are the ones given the chance to progress but they insist to say no and fight to death?

When roads will reach to the province’s far flung recesses, it won’t just be economic progress to be possible to Basilan but access to education. Poverty and illiteracy is the twin bondage which the Republic wishes to overcome in that side of the country. For when the very locals get to be blessed and educated, they themselves will lead their own places to their worthy directions.

The path is still long, the price to pay continues to demand endless tolls, and brave men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines don’t stop to lay lives, but the aim unwavering. Our leaders are relentless to achieve the new hopes. As they say, the State mustn’t give-up for at the end of the tunnel is the light everyone dreamed of.

How about the critics? Well, when it regards to Basilan’s welfare, detractors don’t run out to remark or comment different jeers. Several text messages were as well sent to Barangay eMedia in a form of reactions. Some of them expressed a tired and fed-up conviction for the endless attempts which since only brought politicking and failures.

Let us remember though that the Philippine government is now in a peace accord with the MILF pursuing to craft the BBL, while it is also reaching out the MNLF. How about giving the other side the chance to also prove their sincerity? Well, let us hope against hope.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27, NIV)

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