A total of 547 children participated in the Festival of Love and Peace held in Tuburan Proper, Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Basilan on October 4, 2019.
Among the 547, more than 100 were children of the ASG surrenderors who are currently enrolled in the Program against Violent Extremism (PAVE) of the government.
Other participants include the children of MILF and MNLF returnees, CAFGUs, and residents of HMA.
This activity was initiated by the Save the Children of War (Basilan) Association, Incorporated in collaboration with the AFP, OPAPP, Provincial Government of Basilan, and other stakeholders inside and outside Basilan.
It is a yearly activity conducted in conflict-affected areas to help the children impacted by previous conflicts recover from the traumatic experiences.
With this year’s theme, “Nurturing the Missing Piece of Peace,” a symbolic turnover of toy guns was conducted.
The toy guns were replaced with bicycles and school supplies in order to divert the children’s attention from their accustomed conflict environment to a peaceful and progressive community.
Tuburan experienced massive armed engagements between the government and the armed groups in previous years. Children also witnessed air strikes during operations. In order to help them recover from their traumatic experience in seeing helicopter dropping bombs, the 3rd Air Division Company of the Philippine Air Force conducted a candy-drop during the event to showcase love and peace in the municipality of HMA.
“We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to our partners and the community for their untiring support to our peace efforts in Basilan and other provinces in our area of operation,” said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, WestMincom commander.
“With our strengthened alliance, we will soon attain peace and progress here in Mindanao,” added Lt. Gen. Sobejana.