The first Oplan Bayanihan campaign of the Philippine Army was conducted in Buenavista, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, on Sunday, through a convergence of government, private, and non-government organizations, and the presence of volunteer lawyers who gave a free legal clinic.
Lt. Col. Ramil Bitong, 11th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said yesterday he considers it both an inspiration to be able to gather all the stakeholders in one event, and a challenge to look forward to another similar event.
Bitong thanked the people behind the success of the project in living up to the Bayanihan spirit, in making the people feel and taking cognizance that insurgency is not just a problem of the military, but by the whole populace.
He said that the drive would not have been possible without the initiatives of the Negros Oriental High Class ‘94 headed by Maj. Sonny Gonzales and Class ’95 headed by Aidalyn Arabe, who sourced out funds for the medicines, as well volunteer nurses headed by Simoun Yumul.
Bitong said he is even more confident that insurgency can be solved. “It may not be soon in Guihulgan City, but definitely we must put an end to this,” he said.
Col. Manuel Luis Ochotorena, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the army is pursuing more activities of such nature, especially in conflict areas of the province.
Oplan Bayanihan is emphasizing more on civil military operations, by winning the peace rather than defeating the enemy. Sunday’s activity also had the support of Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong (Neg. Or., 1st District) and Gov. Roel Degamo.
Ochotorena said that if indeed the New People’s Army and the army had one thing in common that is to serve and protect the people, “they (rebels) should join with us in conducting medical missions and outreach programs.”
Ochotorena said the rebels may approach the priests, teachers or local chief executives, as emissaries in reaching the 302nd IB. They do not have to go through separate ways, he stressed.*JG
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