Church, military in Kalinga forge MOU to work together for peace
by Peter Balocnit
Tabuk, Kalinga (17 October) -- A rare display of partnership between two likely adversaries was forged with the historic signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for both parties to work for peace and development in the provinces of Apayao and Kalinga.
The military and the church agreed to work together in resolving issues affecting the citizens through the created Church-Military Advisory Group (CMAG), the fourth of its kind in the country.
Col. Remegio De Vera, Commanding Officer of the 501st Infantry Brigade said the MOU serves as a covenant between the Kalinga-Apayao Religious Sector Association (KARSA) and the 5th Infantry Division represented by the 501st Brigade, which has jurisdiction over the two provinces.
"This MOU through the created CMAG envisions that government and the church's peace efforts will earn credibility and recognition through the delivery of services to the grass root level from programs that aim to alleviate poverty", De Vera who signed for the military said.
On the other hand, LtCol. Antonio Lastimado, Commanding Officer of the 21st Infantry Battalion said the need to fortify a mutual collaboration between the military and the religious sector is to alleviate the ill-effects of insurgency. "This will serve as venue to resolve issues on how to come together provide help to the people", he added.
He said there is no written history of collaboration between the two sectors but both are working for peace and development particularly the campaign against illegal logging, graft and corruption, election fraud, injustice and poverty.
Guided by the principle of service to God, country and people, the parties shall undertake a regular conference by their respective representatives to discuss issues concerning social justice and to jointly implement welfare and development programs.
The objectives of the partnership is to promote and advocate respect of human dignity, human rights, stop the use of violence; conduct fact finding missions to resolve conflicts, protect the environment, good governance; and help achieve lasting peace.
"There is a need to foster a harmonious relationship and cooperation between KARSA and the 5th ID and to maintain an open line of communication when resolving conflicts", the MOU states.
The CMAG is composed of the KARSA as Chairman; Brigade Commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade as Co-Chairman; members are Commanding Officer of the 21st IB, three representatives from KARSA and Civil-Military Officers and Karsa Secretary as Secretariat.
Signing for KARSA as the Second Party was Rev. Luis Ao-as, KARSA Chairman. Witnessing the signing were MGen. Nestor Ochoa, Commanding Officer of the 5ID, Bishops Prudencio Andaya Jr. of the Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk and Rt. Rev. Renato Abibico, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon; and other church leaders of the nine-member KARSA. (PIA-Kalinga) [top]