KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/23 January) — Some 2,000 residents in at least 30 villages believed to be influenced by the New People’s Army in the hinterlands of Makilala, North Cotabato, held a peace rally in the town center Saturday, at the end of the three-day peace-building seminar initiated by the 57th Infantry Battalion and the local government.
Most of the participants during the rally were villagers from areas where the 57th IB has set up a Barangay Defense System (BDS), a part of the Integrated Area Community Public Safety Plan of the Philippine Army.
The Army is working with barangay residents in their attempts to stop the NPA from gaining control in the far-flung villages.
Mayor Rudy Caoagdan acknowledged the contribution of the BDS in securing peace in the community.
“You were invited to join the peace-building activity not because of your possible connection with the rebel group but because we need your help in building peace and progress in our town,” said Caoagdan.
The peace-building seminar in Makilala was held at Camp Aurora in Barangay Old Bulatucan with the theme, “Panaghiusa sa Katawhan maoy Dalan sa Kalinaw og Kalambuan” (Peace and Progress through Unity) attended by at least 150 participants, mostly BDS officials coming from the 38 barangays.
Makilala has 38 barangays. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)