Tuesday Jul, 16 2024 11:08:06 PM

6th ID’s unique peace monument unveiled

Mindanao Peace Process • 16:00 PM Thu Sep 21, 2023
John Felix Unson
The unique Army peace monument at the entrance to Camp Siongco. (John Unson)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao del Norte - Officials unveiled here Thursday a peculiar peace monument, one fashioned from parts of 3,000 assault rifles and rocket launchers surrendered by enemies of state in recent months.

The monument is a large replica of the iconic 5.56 millimeter M16 assault rifle constructed by soldiers beside the gate to the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division here.

It was inaugurated on Thursday morning by Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner, Jr., Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity and senior officials of the Bangsamoro government.

Brawner and Galvez separately told reporters at the sideline of the symbolic event that they are grateful to the 6th ID for having worked out the surrender of hundreds of members of the allies Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Dawlah Islamiya terrorist groups in the past four years, enabling Army units in central Mindanao to collect their firearms prior to their return to mainstream society.

“This monument is very symbolic, something first ever in the Philippines,” Brawner said.

A member of the 80-seat Bangsamoro parliament, Susana Anayatin, Deputy Regional Senior Minister Abunawas Maslamama, Bangsamoro police director Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, Brig. Gen. Eric  Macaambac of the 1st Marine Brigade and representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross were also present in the event, organized by 6th ID’s commander, Major Gen. Alex Rillera.

Brawner said credit for the collection of the firearms that were pieced together to form the unique peace monument has to go to Rillera, the commanders of different units under him, and the local government executives supporting the 6th ID's effort to secure the surrender via backdoor dialogues of local terrorists operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The BIFF and the Dawlah Islamiya have a reputation for bombing buses and commercial establishments if owners refuse to pay “protection money” monthly and are known for fomenting deep-seated animosity towards non-Muslims.

Some of the firearms used as materials for the peace monument were from members of the New People’s Army who availed of the government’s reconciliation program for NPAs.

“Use of firearms in seeking redress or fighting for political objectives is obsolete. Peaceful political discourses, interfaith dialogues and multi-sector peacebuilding projects are the new modes now of fostering peace and development in `security-challenged’ areas,” Galvez said.


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