The Joint Task Force Leon Kilat has conducted a peace and security symposium at the St. Joseph Seminary College in Dumaguete City to educate and train the public on how to spot suspected lawless elements in their locality.

Officials from the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy, and executive director Bimbo Miraflor of Task Force Leon Kilat briefed priests, seminarians and staff on the current situation in Negros Oriental, including the conflict in Marawi City, Monday afternoon.

Miraflor said the three major security concerns that the province is currently facing are the communist insurgency, terrorism by extremist groups, and the illegal drug problem.

This is the first time the task force conducted information and communication training/symposium for a religious group, specifically with the seminarians, priests and faculty and staff of the St. Joseph Seminary College.

Fr. Ben Eric Lozada, academic dean of the seminary, thanked the task force for the updates on criminality and terrorism, especially on the Marawi situation.

Lozada highlighted the role of seminarians as youth leaders in their respective parishes and apostolates.

The priest, however, emphasized that going beyond what is happening today particularly on extremist violence by the ISIS and the Maute Group, is the role and responsibility of every individual to do their part to achieve peace.

During the activity, the PNP, Army and Navy gave their presentations on the current peace and order situation in Negros Oriental.

Highlighting the activity was the presence of a former member of the New People’s Army, only identified as “Ka Glen”, who shared how the insurgents worked to promote their cause or ideology through recruitment, urban propaganda, and armed conflict.

The composite team of law enforcement authorities is going to the different towns and cities as well as meeting with various stakeholders, as part of their information and dissemination campaign to update the public on the threats to peace and security.

A member of the Philippine Navy also gave a briefing on intelligence gathering, and tips on what to watch out for in the communities, such as strange behavior of a newcomer in a locality.

The task force stressed that despite being in close proximity to Mindanao, where extremist terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf continue to fight with government troops, the province of Negros Oriental is still a safe place to be in.*JFP/PNA