Celebrating Bohol’s Peace Day

the-agora1

Bohol celebrated Peace Day yesterday with a fitting theme “Kahiusahan, Kalinaw ug Kalambuan.” The activities included a morning fun run, and a program at 4p.m. at the CPG Sport Center in Tagbilaran City and was attended by the present prime movers of peace – the police, military, other national government agencies and the high school students of the four (4) public high schools in Tagbilaran City – Bohol Island State University, Manga High School, Tagbilaran City Science High School, and the Mansasa High School.

It was the 6th year that the Province of Bohol celebrated this Peace Day since February 11, 2010 when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) declared the province as an insurgent-free province after almost 30 years of trying to find out the best approach and intervention to address the local communist insurgency that has gripped the country until today in many other provinces of the Philippines.

Eight years before Bohol was cleared of the armed NPAs, a fifth guerrilla front of the Communist Party of th Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN) was being added to the Province. But given the right approach and interventions, especially under Gov. Rene L. Relampagos and Gov. Erico B. Aumentado, the guerrilla fronts slowly disintegrated until finally the last NPA team left the province that paved the way or the declaration of it as insurgent-free on February 11, 2010 thus paving the way for more investments, particularly in tourism, to come in and provide job opportunities to the Boholanos.

Both Gov. Edgar M. Chatto and Mayor Geesnell ‘Baba’ Yap where not able to attend the celebration as they were out of the province but Board Member Benjie Arcamo was there to represent the governor and City Administrator Eddi Borja stood in behalf of Mayor Baba.

Given the importance of peace in the progress and development of any locality, I would have wanted to see every sector of society to be at least represented among those who showed at the program. But conspicuously absent were the groups from the private sector – the Non-Government Organizations (POs), the Church and religious organizations, and the civil society organizations (CSOs) even only those who are represented in the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

Either the organizing groups of the provincial government failed to invite the active players in the campaign for peace and order or the private sector groups failed to appreciate why a day of peace is still necessary to be observed. Then again as usual for government activities and celebrations that need a big attendance, there are no other institutions that can provide the necessary attendance but the schools. And so about 75% of those who were there were students from the four high schools in the city of Tagbilaran.

We also know that our history is replete with stories of human rights abuses but dance dramas that depict this part in our history should be placed in the proper context. BISU-Bingag Campus in Dauis, for example, dramatized the brutality of the Spanish soldiers against Filipinos during the Spanish era in the Philippines but the uniforms that they used to dress the Spanish soldiers were that of the PNP which made the presentation as an affront to the brutality and abuses of the PNP. It was something that to me failed to reflect the theme of the celebration.

Anyway peace according to PNP Provincial Director SSupt. Denis Palo is not something to be wished for but it is something to be had, enjoyed, practiced and given away. The biggest challenge today to the peace and order in the province of Bohol, therefore, is how to sustain and maintain it so that the people will continually enjoy it. The only solution is still the same as the one that drove the NPAs away from Bohol – let us make peace the responsibility of every citizen and sector of society.

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