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PIA Press Release

Army, clergy mediate dispute among residents in Leyte-Southern Leyte border

Tacloban City (February 8) -- The Church and the military in Leyte partnered together in a move to resolve the dispute among the residents of Barangay Kikilo and Bulak, both of Abuyog, Leyte, in a meeting held at the Archbishop's Palace in Palo, Leyte on February 3, 2009.

His Excellency Jose S. Palma of the Archdiocese of Palo, together with Col. Allan F. Martin of the 802nd Brigade; Lt. Col. Henry Bumiltac of the 19th Infantry (Commando) Battalion and PSSupt. Gil J. Hitoses of the Police Regional Office 8, mediated the worsening conflict between the Leyte Gulf Farmers and Fisher Folks Allied Association and the non members in the two barangays and helped resolve the problem by going into the root cause of the conflict between the two clashing factions.

Second Lt. Gabriel Aranez, PIO of the 19th IB said that there were reports of gunfights between the two groups that resulted to two fatalities each from both sides on 23 January 2009. After the incidents, residents evacuated to seek refuge into the municipality of Silago, Southern Leyte, bringing with them their dead.

Learning about the incidents, Archbishop Palma and the group wasted no time, called the two opposing groups and talk to them to about the causes of the dispute and what should be done to pacify the residents and stop them from hurting one another.

During the dialogue with the warring groups, the mediators learned that the conflict started with the problems of alleged discrimination of electric connection; road checkpoints closure between residents; cutting of water supply;burning of houses and businesses of each group; Php 1,500.00 fee of non-LEGFFAA members to LEGFFAA for electrification; and the issue of LEGFFAA membership tagged as members of NPA.

It was also found-out that the boundary conflict between Abuyog, Leyte and Silago, Southern Leyte was only dragged into the issue since Brgy Kikilo and Bulak are the disputed barangays of the two municipalities.

To resolve the problems among the residents, many of whom are all relatives throwing accusations one from the other, the Archbishop told them that they (opposing parties) themselves are the only ones who can give solution to the problem.

The good Archbishop then told the opposing groups to leave the conference room and to go to another room to resolve their problems.

After 30 minutes, the Archbishop asked what the agreed solutions are between the two groups.

Fr. Rodriguez of Maasin City who was the former Parish Priest of said barangays and the one who was left to hear the solutions of the two groups said that both groups agreed to have peace among themselves for the sake of their children.

After listening to this, the Archbishop laid his requests to let the displaced persons go back to their homes; for the roads to be opened to all residents; no cutting of basic services; to let the children go back to their schools; no more resorting to unconstitutional means; to let the dead be buried because it will cause sickness among them; for all residents LEGFFAA and non-LEGFFAA alike to pay Php 1,500.00 as payment for the labor of electrification;and lastly, he requested the residents to live in peace.

In order to help regain and maintain peace in the area, the military and the police officials said that they will put in place peacekeepers. (19IB/PIA 8) [top]

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