In a series of interactive discussions in this city this week, members of the military’s consultative board lauded Western Mindanao Command’s strategy in tapping different sectors to work for good governance and accountability.
Composed of public and private sectors, members of the WestMinCom’s Multi-Sector Governance Consultative Board pledged their commitment to serve as the accountability partner of the command during its launching in Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City on May 21, 2019.
“This is a good strategy, and it needs more improvement and more study in order to strengthen the program. We congratulate the WestMinCom for envisioning this, especially on this aspect of civilian and military cooperation,” said Professor Ali Yacub, founder of Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates.
Yacub, who chairs the multi-sector consultative board’s Committee on Communications and Advocacy, said the creation of the board will pave the way for the transformation of the AFP.
“Now, we are welcome to get in and then be able to partner with the military to help it accomplish its 2028 vision of becoming the best armed forces in Asia. We can come in to give some advice on moderation, especially when civilians are involved so we can give and share our thoughts,” he added.
The MSGCB will provide recommendations and assessments on the implementation of the WestMinCom’s transformation roadmap and the accomplishments of its vision and strategy in alignment with its policies, plans, and programs.
Board members were chosen based on the following criteria: integrity, expertise, commitment, and volunteerism.
Dr. Grace Rebollos, regional convenor of Bantay Bayanihan President-Reach Out to Others Foundation, said: “Our hope is that, if there are any transitional movements, there are certain stabilizing factors, such as advisory, governance, and assessment. Things, like this, come with more familiarity, come with friendship, and come with the assumption that all of us are within the circle of friends, and that there is no threat or harassment or anything. So, we go by that assumption, and I hope that we can optimize that kind of situation.”
Rebollos chairs the MSGCB’s Committee on Strategy Assessment and Review, which monitors the implementation of the command’s strategy and evaluates its performance and execution.
Members of the multi-sector board also include Basilan Congressman Mujiv Hataman, Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, Fr. Karel San Juan of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Rev. Carlos Gentiles Gulane of Zamboanga City Assembly of God, Jose Suan of the Philippine Integrated Industries Labor Union, Edwin To of the Pricewise Marketing Corporation, Christopher Lawrence Arnuco of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone, Roel Pareño of the Philippine Star, and Raymond Domingo of the National Youth Commission.
“We understand that the military also struggles with situations. Given that there are certain challenges, there are certain tensions coming out of those challenges. I have questions like, ‘If you were to go on assessment, who will extend or disclose those things to us considering there are things like classified?’” added Rebollos. “Perhaps, you need to converge to proliferate them right para magkaroon ng culture of selection.”
Yacub, who represents the religious sector, gave WestMinCom eight out of 10, citing the accomplishments of the command in liberating the cities of Zamboanga in 2013 and Marawi in 2017.
“We hope that, with the civilian participation, we will be able to work with you side by side, particularly in healing the civilian populace,” he added.
The consultative board was created through the initiative of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Unified Command Staff for Plans of this command.
Emphasizing the symbiotic relationship, Jose Suan, director of Regional Development Council IX, said: “The military is present to maintain peace and order, and, on the part of the labor sector, we are there to support and report any incident in our area.”
“We need peace and order in order to entice allocators or investors to come and invest in Zamboanga City because the raw materials are with us,” he added.
Rev. Carlos Gulane, head pastor of Zamboanga City Assembly of God Church, said: “I think it is a very commendable thing to know that the military itself is really reaching out. Sabi ko nga, napakalaki ng privilege namin dahil, isipin mo, the military will listen to us whenever we will assist, we will advise, and, for me, that is very important because I might not be able to do what you expect from us, but at least it will be more fulfilling on my part to be able to serve our country.”
“I think that the military has gotten something that is workable, and I am glad that we can be part of it. Given the opportunity, I want to teach that to our churches and train them to apply them at their own level,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command, expressed hope that the convergence strategy will serve as an avenue for reflections among sectors to fill the gaps as “peace is a shared responsibility.”
“Applying our multi-tiered approach in ending terrorism and insurgency in the area of operations, we welcome and encourage the inclusive participation of members of our multi-sector consultative board in coming up with resolutions to realize peace and development in the western and central areas of Mindanao.”