BANCASI, Butuan City – The Philippine Army and Philippine National Police in Butuan City ensured the peaceful assembly of anti-government rallyists along Montilla Boulevard, Butuan City, today, July 22, 2019.

The 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade in close cooperation with the Butuan City Police Office (BCPO) have deployed sizeable personnel to ensure that rallyist can peacefully assemble and freely avail their right and uphold their freedom of expression in connection with the 4th State Of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD).

More or less eighty (80) rallyists of different ages to include teenagers/minors and senior citizens holding anti-government placards, have marched from Butuan City Museum and converged along Montilla Boulevard this city. Anti-government rallyist conducted a brief program to express their sentiments on different issues.

On the other hand, in order to highlight a peaceful, orderly and meaningful SONA of PRRD, the Masigasig Band of 23IB under the 402nd Brigade conducted Free Concert in Butuan City Plaza and distributed information awareness leaflets calling for unity to accelerate peace and development in Caraga.

Likewise, an unprecedented gesture of empathy to the rallyist and to ease the exhaustion under the scorching heat of the sun, personnel of 402nd Brigade and BCPO distributed more than one-hundred (100) bottles of mineral water. The rallyists welcomed the gesture and thanked the soldiers and policemen for the act.

“We do not consider the anti-government rallyists as our foe, we are just performing our job. As a soldier, I wanted them to feel that we are their friends and allies. We are here to protect them whichever side they are in or chose to belong”, said Private First Class Ombo, a female IP soldier who hails from Carromata, San Miguel, SDS when asked why she still chose to be sympathetic to the rallyists even though some of the adverse placards aimed at the AFP.

On his part, Col Maurito L Licudine, 402nd Brigade Commander said, “We respect the freedom and the inalienable rights of every citizen of this country. It is our mandate to be the soldier not only to those who favor the government but as a soldier of all the Filipino people. However, we encourage the organizers to spare the minors and the aged in this kind of activity. Children must be in school. Actually, according to our personnel talking with some of the rallyists, they revealed that they joined because of a promise of getting paid and for the free snacks and meals and not because they care about the organizers agenda against the government. As per observation from the previous rallies, the attendance have significantly decreased because people have already learned that rallies are not going to solve our problems. It only creates division among us.

“We already have this Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF ELCAC) and will be established down to the barangay level under the principle of Whole of Nation Approach, to address the issues that were taken advantage of the CPP-NPA-NDF using it as a ploy to deceive and recruit members thru the arouse, organize and mobilize scheme. Hence, we reiterate our call of unity, let us talk in an environment of peace and a dialogue that everyone can be heard so that we can resolve the issues together”. Col Licudine ended.