The troops of the Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry (We Lead) Battalion and the 803rd (Peace maker) Brigade participated in a month-long celebration of the peace month in the province of Northern Samar, one of the NPA infested province in the country.
Previously, the province captured the national headlines as several encounters and ambuscades between the government troops and the New People’s Army occurred with resulted to the deaths of many government troops, civilians and minor children.
Dubbed as ‘kaPeacetahan’ 2012, the Peace Month celebration with a theme “Ako, Ikaw, Tyo Magkaiba, Nagkakaisa sa Kapayapaan” was done through a series of peace efforts such as conducting multi-sectored dialogues, medical/dental mission, legal counseling, photo exhibit, film showing and mural painting.
During the launching of the activity, a simple mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Fred Placa, chairman of the Pastoral Director of Diocese of Catarman and concurrently headed the Task Force on Good Governance of the Northern Samar Peace and Development Forum (NSPDF).
The Mass was followed a Prayer for Peace, peace commitment and pledges, covenant signing, simultaneous release of pace-symbolic balloons and doves held at the Ibabaw Hall of Northern Samar provincial capitol. It was highlighted with the ceremonial turn-over of check amounting to Four Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P450, 000.00) as a counterpart of the national government through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) to the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) of the province of Northern Samar.
Present during the activity were provincial Board Members Albert Lucero; Beda Bugtong; Alberto Mendador; Jojo Lyon; Golda Balliesta; PSDWD Director Carmen Mejia; 803rd IB Deputy Brigade Commander, Colonel Mario Lacurom; PNP Provincial Director Isaias Tonog; 20IB Battalion Commander, LTC Noel Vestuir; and other local officials of the province to include that from the municipalities.
Apparently, the conduct of KaPEACEtahan is a sincere showcase of united efforts and the genuine commitment of all the peace advocates of the province of Northern Samar.
Lt. Col. Noel Vestuir, commander of the 20IB, said the commitment of the local government of the province of Northern Samar in spearheading this peace initiatives and the full support and cooperation of other stakeholders, is a strong indication that Bayanihan is working at its best in the province.
“As we continue our efforts, we believe that that the peace longed for by the the Northehanons is no longer elusive,” Vestuir said.
The KaPEACEtahan ended with a successful Concert for Peace (Rayhak sa Kamurayawan) at the same venue in the evening and also attended by peace loving residents of Northern Samar, along with its guests and visitors.