Eliminating Hunger, Promoting Peace

The Peace Orchestrators in Lanao; MAO Adelino Rico, Mayor Rommel Arnado, Dir. Asterio Saliot and Dr. Angelito Quirog

KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte -- Prior to a scheduled dialogue with former leaders of the Moro International Liberation Front (MILF), three men dedicated in serving the marginalized rebel returnees in the hinterlands brainstormed on how they could further the service currently extended to the former commanders and their respective municipalities. Dr. Asterio P. Saliot, Director of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the incumbent Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte and Dr. Angelito Quirog, Center Director of ATI-Regional Training Center 10 are the main orchestrators for this initiative aiming to have peace in Lanao Del Norte. 

Noting the billions spent just to make a single commander yield to the government, their sentiment lies on the government’s approach of making the rebels surrender and then leaving them afterwards. “This lack of support made the returnees and active rebels become more discouraged with the political system,” said Saliot. 

ATI’s program From Arms to Farms is in partnership with Mayor Arnado’s administration that aims to provide livelihood to the former rebel commanders through farming. The program has been taking on significant changes to the rebel returnees’ livelihood since its start in 2012. 

Converting the commanders to farmers only require one year of practicum to develop their farms. They can visit ATI’s learning sites which are already being done to the first few batches of former MILF leaders. Focusing on the leaders, Mayor Arnado explained that successful implementation depends on the leader as what is existent in the Maranao’s culture. 

Slowly as the commanders progress, their farms can become an inspiration to their people. Once developed, the site can also be recommended and visitors like students or other farmers will be brought-in to further challenge them. “Farmers have to see the good side of farming so they’ll witness in their own eyes that there is a big opportunity in farming. But the most important thing is the government’s sincerity to help,” said the Mayor. 

Promoting peace and fighting the war against hunger requires the dedication in agriculture and farming. With this philosophy, anyone who wishes to become part of the group must have a heart for farming. This concept of surrender conceptualized by the peace orchestrators requires not the surrender of firearms or guns but of the hearts of the commanders.