Local leaders in North Cotabato and a non-government organization (NGO) have partnered to push for peace in communities rocked by armed hostilities in the area.
Local and provincial leaders in North Cotabato and officials of Balay Mindanao Foundation, Incorporated, an NGO based in Cagayan de Oro City, gathered in Aleosan town late last week to commence dialogues to achieve understanding and peace.
“Choose peace always, and in every opportunity that we have, we have to talk and listen to each other, and make peace as everyone’s business,” Ernesto Anasarias, founding director of Balay Mindanaw, told local leaders that include barangay, municipal and provincial officials.
Dubbed “Hisgutanay” (Visayan term for talks), the gathering was held at the rooftop of Aleosan Municipal Hall with North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza, Aleosan Mayor Vicente Sorupia and North Cotabato board member Rosalie Cabaya gracing the event.
Anasarias said “Hisgutanay” is focused on community peace conversation aimed to hear from barangay leaders and
their issues and concerns on the peace process between the government and rebel groups.
Anasarias urged barangay chairpersons and council members to conduct dialogues to secure peace, particularly in conflict-affected areas.
He stressed that dialogue “is always the best platform to listen to grievances and in looking for answers to end disputes.”
Anasarias said he is much aware and appreciative of the peace initiatives of the North Cotabato provincial government in settling land conflicts and “rido” (family feud).
“We wanted to reaffirm the efforts of the provincial leadership in terms of peace building and quest for genuine peace,” he added.
Mendoza emphasized the importance of consensus building among barangay leaders as a tool to address peace and conflict issues.
“We have to build common trust through dialogues as we listen to each other’s sentiments,” she said.
Clan wars and land dispute involving local residents have affected the peace and development of remote places like Barangays Tapudok, Pagangan, Bagolibas, Lawili and Dungguan.
Anasarias urged residents to work together in the quest for peace even though they have different views for the sake of the communities.
Rochelle Y. Mordeno, executive director of Balay Mindanaw, said the barangay and grassroots leaders must be actively involved to achieve sustainable peace in the community. (PNA)