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Monday, February 16, 2015

Hundreds join Basilan walk for justice, peace in tribute to Fallen44

By Rene V. Carbayas

ISABELA CITY Carrying candles, streamers, and balloons, hundreds of people walked around Isabela City proper last February 5 and converged at the city plaza for an interfaith prayer rally, calling for justice and peace.

The people of Basilan expressed their sympathies to the men and women of the 54th PNP-Special Action Force in Basilan whose comrades perished in the bloody “misencounter” at Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Led by religious leaders and the City Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar, the people offered prayers and sympathies in silence.

As the government is under intense scrutiny owing to different public opinions, which are now taking toll on the ongoing peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad has called on the public to exercise calm and sobriety.

“We are here because we are for peace, we love peace, and we want to live in peace and harmony. Our country is experiencing misunderstanding. We are not at peace because of the painful death of the SAF 44 in Mamasapano,” the Bishop said as he prayed for healing of broken hearts.

The bishop reminded the people: “We belong to one God, although we call Him in different names. We are brothers and sisters. We should not be killing each other.”

Pastor Ronald Paulino of the United Evangelical Church also prayed for unity and for Divine intervention to touch the hearts of the people “which are enveloped in anger and to overcome the pain but never fading in the quest for peace.”

Dr. Abdulkhair Tarazon of the Basilan Ulama Supreme Council also prayed for God’s guidance towards the path to peace, justice, and truth.

In her message, Mayor Cherry Akbar said, “We don’t have to be in Bicutan to feel the pain of the mothers, wives, families and children of the Fallen SAF 44.”

Speaking in Filipino, the mayor recalled how her heart was devastated when she visited the bodies of the SAF, as most of those perished in Mamasapano were formerly assigned in Isabela City, assisting in keeping the city peaceful.

She was distraught to have learned upon visiting the coffins when 16 of the 44 are unrecognizable because of the brutality suffered in the hands of perpetrators at Mamasapano. Almost half are in closed casket.

“Where is human rights here?” she asked, lamenting that whenever soldiers or government security forces suffered brutal killings like beheadings and lacerations, nobody from the human rights came up to condemn. “Is human rights only for the rebels and civilians?” she lamented.

“Sila na ang nagbuwis ng buhay para sa kapayapaan, sila pa ang sinisi sa kanilang kamatayan (They have offered their lives for peace, yet they were blamed for their death),” the mayor said.

She said that it is saddening that certain people have the attitude of blaming others in times of failures, but in times of victory everybody wants to take the credit.

PInsp Bernabe A. Chamo Jr, Platoon Leader, 54th Special Action Company, PNP-SAF thanked the constituents of Isabela City and Basilan, all the sectors present at the event for their sympathies and show of support to the PNP-SAF.

He appealed to the public not to forget the heroic acts of the SAF 44 and pass on the next generation about the ideology and sacrifices of the Fallen 44 who has served the country with dedication and honor for peace.

The prayer rally wound up with the candle lighting at the city plaza.