This year’s celebration in this island kicked off on December 02, with a skydiving exhibition from the officers of the Philippine Marines, carrying their individual messages of peace.
According to Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, who leads the military forces in the province, this year’s peace week is so far the biggest gathering where military officers as well as enlisted personnel joined the people in different peace-related activities.
“We see it very positive especially to establish stronger links with the people – a basic framework for us to succeed in our effort to build peace in Basilan,” Sabban said.
“This is also a good venue where we can directly talk with the people,” he said after speaking in the peace forum held at Claret College of Isabela and attended by more than 500 mostly young participants.
This year’s theme of the Mindanao Week of Peace is “Building Bridges of Peace With Our Peace Officers.” It was drafted by the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), an interfaith body spearheading the annual celebration
Bishop Martin Jumoad of the Prelature of Isabela , a member of the BUC, said the theme is also timely for Basilan to mainstream the contributions of security forces in maintaining peace and development in the island.
“This is something new. This is the first time that we mainstream our military forces in celebration of Mindanao Week of Peace and we are glad their responses are very positive,” he said.
“We are also glad to recognize them as they are also our effective peace officers,” he added.
Aside from the members of the Armed Forces, different organizations in the province also participated and spearheaded the celebration. Among them are the City Government and Sangguaniang Kabataan Federation.
“We want also to show our support in this celebration of peace,” said Acting Isabela City Administrator Jun Nuñal.
“Particularly we want to be involved in the celebration and we want to see what we, as youth, can contribute to help achieve peace and development in Basilan,” added Isabela City SK Federation President Minsara Muarip.
The celebration also witnessed the inter-organizational consortium of Pagtabangan “Kawman” Basilan holding a Children Festival on December 1in Tipo-tipo town with some 400 children participating.
According to Rene Carbayas of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) office in Basilan, a member of the consortium, this year celebration is something different.
“While we focused our theme on our peace officers, we saw the opportunity to highlight the children at the same time,” he said.
“We have also invited our military officers and they really enjoyed playing with the children. For us it is a big development already,” he explained.
He added that this year’s celebration drew the biggest participation so far by different agencies. “This is the first time that the Pagtabangan is in the forefront,” he added.
Pagtabangan, composed of both government and non-government and civil society organizations, was formed to facilitate peace and development in the island province.
Its members include the Nagdilaab Foundation, Christian Chrildren’s Fund-SHIELD, Isabela Foundation, Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority, Department of Science and Technology, PIA, Department of Interior and Local Government, Office of the Vice Governor, Basilan Muslim Women Association, Philippine National Police, the AFP, Basilan Communicator’s Network and the youth-led group Asosasyon ng Nagkakaisang Kabataan sa Pag-unlad at Kapayapaan.
Carbayas added that for the past years, the peace week celebration has become a venue where they can introduce their platforms and programs in the island.
Participation of the people in the island has been noted to have increased each year.
“We are astounded by how the people participated this year,” said Jumoad, referring to the crowd that joined the walk for peace that opened the celebration.
“Based from previous years, we can say this year is another success for us,” he concluded.