Army seeks support from Church for peace

Major General Marion Sison, commander of Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) pays a courtesy visit to Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos at the Bishop’s Home in Barangay Palampas, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on October 8. (Photo courtesy of 3ID)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) has reached out to the Diocese of San Carlos to seek guidance and support for peace and development efforts in Negros Island.

Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander, met with Bishop Gerardo Alminaza at the Bishop’s Home in Barangay Palampas, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Sunday, October 8.

On Tuesday’s press briefing on the atrocities of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros held at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol here, Sison revealed his meeting with the bishop last week, which aimed at strengthening the local peace engagement and dialogue in Negros Island.

“We seek for his blessing and guidance, dahil ayaw po namin na maki-pagbarilan, makipag-away sa ating mga kapwa Pilipino,” he added.

Sison said that he sought for the Church’s help for a peaceful dialogue.

“Tulungan niyo po kami na makipag-usap na walang putukan, walang armas upang sa ganoon mas makita at malaman natin kung ano ang mga dapat pang gawin para sila – ang ating mga kapatid na nasa bundok ay bumaba na,” Sison said, as he recalled his meeting with Alminaza.

During their meeting, Alminaza stressed that the root causes of violence must be addressed.

“I want to collaborate. I want it to be clear. I am not in favor of violence, but we must establish the foundation for people to live peacefully,” Alminaza said as quoted by the Army.

“We need long-term solutions, not just quick fixes, as the same problems persist from long ago. Allegations of abuse must be systematically investigated, balanced, and evidence gathered to establish the truth,” he added.

While underscoring the importance of dialogue in resolving conflicts, Alminaza clarified that he is not advocating armed struggle.

“I can assure you, without hesitation that I am not advocating for armed struggle. I am a proponent of the Christian faith, combining prayerful and proactive approaches, both spiritual and social,” he said.

Sison has assured that the Church-Military and Police Advisory Group (CMPAG) will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders to address security threats and challenges, aiming to tackle the social issues that contribute to armed conflict.

“Our soldiers invest their lives in ensuring peace and security for all. I do not tolerate any violations of humanitarian rights. If such violations occur, I will ensure that those responsible are held accountable and subjected to investigation,” Sison said.

He said that a military or police solution is not needed to maintain peace and security, but, he stressed the significant role of every member of society as part of the solution.

“What we need is communication,” Sison said, as he also called on local chief executives and barangay officials to help enhance and strengthen the local peace engagement efforts.

The meeting concluded with a prayer led by the Bishop, seeking guidance and safety for the military troopers to carry out their duties to sustain peace and strengthen the bond between the security forces and the Church.

Sison was accompanied by Brigadier General Orlando Edralin, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), Brigadier General Joey Escanillas, 302nd IBde commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Calaoagan, commander of 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) during his visit.

Meanwhile, Edralin also paid a courtesy visit to Bishop Patricio Buzon of the Diocese of Bacolod last June, to strengthen the relationship between the Philippine Army and the local religious community while fostering open communication channels for collaboration in various endeavors.