Church, multi sectors express mis-branding

NEWS NOTES

Civil Society Orga-nizations (CSOs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), the business sector, the academe, the religious, the media, the health sector, even workers in government have expressed fears of misbranding, as they perform their respective functions, in relation to the spate of killings in Negros Oriental the past several days.

As a result, delivery of basic services has been prejudiced and destabilized, according to the sectors that were represented during a multi-sectoral dialogue initiated by Bishop Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete on Thursday.

Vicar General Msgr Glen Corsiga said, “In our midst is a frightening episode of utter disrespect for human life and lawless manner of achieving quick justice in the hands of criminal offenders.”

During the multi-sectoral dialogue, the schools reported that there are teachers who are afraid of reporting to their respective stations in hinterland barangays and so with the students. In fact, a decrease in enrolment was noted in areas where there is violence especially in Guihulngan.

ATTENDING

Also present during the multi-sectoral dialogue were 11th IB commander Lt Col. Ramir Redosendo, Gov. Roel Degamo and his provincial administrator Dr Henry A Sojor   and presentatives of the police, because at that time, Police Colonel Raul Tacaca had already received relief orders from Camp Crame.

After the sharing, a solidarity letter was issued and signed by all those present during the multi-sectoral dialogue.

The multi-sectoral dialogue has finally resolved to request Congress for the conduct of a Senate inquiry regarding the killings in Negros Oriental

WHY WHY WHY?

When asked why these are happening, a DepEd representative told the dialogue information given to them is insufficient. “We continue to feel fear,” the representative from the DepEd Negros Oriental division said.  “There is no feeling of security at this point, “ the representative added.

However, being the last presence of government in the hinterland barangays, DepEd will continue to deliver basic education and will also cater to students who have come down from the mountains because when schools are closed, the more they would multiply referring to the rebels.

The Department of Trade and Industry reported that Negosyo Center counselors all over the province also fear for their lives while assigned in hinterland barangays due to what is called as “red-tagging,” and that they wanted to come down.

The Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce (NOCCI) said a lot of investors are asking about the status of the province as conflict manageable and development ready province.

Marlene Decker Nocete of the DSWD national said being in the front line they are also caught in between the “left” and the “right”. She is afraid that time might come that partner-organizations might stop their support due to misbranding. When interviewed, victims of so-called atrocities do not admit they belong to the left but perceive this as “balusanay” between the left and the right.

Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) general secretary Greg Fernandez and president of Negornet with 24 organizations disclosed he was part of the groups that prepared Negros Oriental as a conflict manageable and development ready province in 2014.

One of the most important conditions was for the local government units concerned and national agencies to make sure that once the military is out in the area, basic services must be delivered to sustain the declaration.

GOVERNMMENT FAILURE

However, this was not sustained.  This was pointed out as the reason for the resurgence of rebel activities because government failed to fill in the areas left before by the 11th IB especially in the north of the province.

The executive director for Tuburan for Rural Women Nancy Estelloso explained that their work is to go to the communities to complement the government in the delivery of basic services like health, education and livelihood among others.

Meanwhile, priests and pastors whose congregations are in the hinterland barangays also fear for their lives for being labeled as supporters of the New Peoples Army when they go to the mountains.

Rev. Ed Samson of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) church said the fear somehow limits their ministry, limits their travel in going to the mountains especially in critical areas. The fear also affects the livelihood of their pastors, who are also farmers.

Department of Health provincial team leader Dr. Socrates Villamor said one fear that is very common among physicians is possible retaliation of injured or wounded persons they will report to authorities especially in the rural areas.