Residents in 3 Lanao Norte towns light candles for peace

BACOLOD, Lanao del Norte (MindaNews/26 October) — – Shoulder-to-shoulder, residents from the towns of Bacolod, Maigo and Kauswagan, came out and stood along the Iligan-Pagadian highway, lighting candles for peace last Sunday.

Abel Jose Moya of Pakigdait, an NGO, said many of the residents came out and brought their own candles. Muslims on the other hand, brought placards with messages of peace.

“It was overwhelming to see how the residents came out, even buying their own candles and bringing their own placards,” Moya said.

Aleem Abdulkarim Ambor said the outpouring of support for peace proves that the residents of these three towns have moved on. The three towns bore the brunt of the fighting between Moro guerillas and the government in the past 30 years “yet we saw them together outside the highway last Sunday. No religion but only the desire for peace.”

The candle lighting for peace was initiated by the Army’s 15th infantry battalion and was supported by NGOs and religious leaders of Lanao del Norte.

Lt. Col. Babarito Baribar, battalion commander, said they came up with the idea of holding candle lighting to show Lanao residents that not everyone in the Armed Forces of the Philippines is clamoring for “an all-out war.”

“This activity is in sharp contrast with Basilan and elsewhere. Here we are vowing not to break the ceasefire agreement,” Brig. Gen. Roland Amarille, head of the Army Task Force Makalintad, said.

Amarille told religious leaders that following last Sunday’s ambush in Sultan Naga Dimaporo, they have instructed their troops to stand down and not pursue the suspected Moro rebels who attacked and killed three soldiers.

He said it was obvious that the attack was a divisionary move to ease the pressure of the fighting that presently raged in Zamboanga de Sibugay.

“We do not want to provoke the MILF forces in Lanao which is a bigger force than those in Zamboanga. I promise you we will maintain our defensive stance here,” Amarille said.

Calls for sober minds and peace have escalated following the latest fighting between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)