by Rene V. Carbayas
ISABELA CITY, Basilan Aug 3 (PIA) – The war on terror is often associated with Mindanao, especially in Basilan where years of conflict with homegrown terror group Abu Sayyaf remain. But hopes for peace never falter for the people in Basilan.
The war all started with these so called terrorists or extremist who have been deceived and taught to hate everyone who do not feel the same way they do. They create chaos and terror in this province because they don’t believe in our government. They hate government rather.
It has been a long-year of fight—a fight for peace and unity. But we still see precious lives of our soldiers lost. Hundreds of civilians were affected with the crisis. They sacrificed too much without gaining the prolonged goal of the nation. Do we really need to fight until we will all be vanished in fighting?
Partnership and strategy
The local government and the soldiers here now in Basilan came way in realizing that the fight for terrorism is like being a goalkeeper. They can make hundreds of brilliant saves in welcoming their enemies into their home (barracks). They can even suppress that pinch of anger and hurt towards the enemy and yet encourage them to stop fighting and begin a new life for a brighter future.
With the promise of comfortable life, almost a hundred Abu Sayyaf dropped their arms and surrendered to the government. They face their fears of the possible consequences that may be imposed on them by the government. But all their fears were healed because they were welcomed by the elements of the government with open hearts.
One of the returnees shared and compared their life when they were still in tough places. According to him, they never experienced how to live a normal life because at their young age, they were conditioned to hate this country for any reason. They just believe what they were told by others who think that this government is their enemy, that we are all enemies. They don’t have any knowledge about the facts how good is our government. For that reason they are willing to destroy us. They choose chaos instead of peace and violence rather than harmony. He said now they are free, they were all provided with their needs and even learned to mingle with other people. At this point, he encouraged his troops to do the same and see the reality of life in an outside world, without war and far from terrorism.
Through the initiative of our local government and in partnership with non-government organizations, the returnees are taking the first step to prepare themselves for a new life. Different programs were launched to introduce them how to live in a new society.
Assistance and support
As an integrated component of the reformation program for the returnees and an overall response of the government, they also underwent psychosocial intervention which aims to promote, protect and support their well-being and eradicate any traces of terrorism ideas. Part of the activity is the team-building exercise conducted at Malamawi Island White Beach. The exercise is designed to reduce psychosocial vulnerabilities and help them establish camaraderie.
Our returnees were also given the chance to have dialogue and interaction with the regional and provincial government as different agencies presented their programs and services which the returnees and their families could benefit from.
The Department of Education through the Alternative Learning System offers their program for education to give opportunity to young returnees and their children to get back into school and acquire education.
The Department of Science and Technology presented their livelihood training and programs through the latest use of technology and offered their scholarship programs and free allowances to qualified beneficiaries.
Other government agencies like TESDA, Department of Agriculture and the DSWD encouraged returnees to avail of their programs for this will help them develop their potentials and prepare themselves for gainful life in the future.
Hopefully, through the government’s pleasant way and effort of fighting terrorism, these people will realize and educate themselves and stop fighting. Take the road of peace and let peace reign in their hearts. (ALT/RVC/PIA9-Basilan with report from Nilda Delos Reyes)