Global AKO OFW throws support Yes for Peace

Dr. Celerino "Chie" Umandal, Founding Chairperson of AKO OFW, a global organization of OFWs with members in Europe, the Middle East and Asia during the latest epidode of UP UP (Usapang Pangkapayapaan, Usapang Pangkaunlaran) Pilipinas broadcast of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) hosted by Colonel Gerardo M. Zamudio. (Facebook video screengrab)

CALOOCAN CITY, April 3 (PIA) -- The Advocates and Keepers Organization of Overseas Filipino Workers (AKO OFW) has expressed its support for Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan, a non-government initiative initiated at the University of the Philippines (UP) System and eventually supported by the government. 

Dr. Celerino "Chie" Umandal, Founding Chairperson of AKO OFW, a global organization of OFWs with members in Europe, the Middle East and Asia committed their help in advocating for and mobilizing their members for the planned “30 Million in 30 Days” open people’s referendum phase of the campaign this coming September during an episode of the UP UP (Usapang Pangkapayapaan, Usapang Pangkaunlaran) Pilipinas of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) hosted by Colonel Gerardo M. Zamudio.

“The active support of AKO OFW to Yes for Peace will give us the opportunity to counteract the International Solidarity works being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to put the government’s resolve to end the local communist armed conflict into bad light,” Zamudio, who hosted the peace and development broadcast program, welcomed Umandal’s expression of support.

For his part, Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yes for Peace, Incorporated said September is the National Peace Consciousness Month, which is celebrated annually to arouse public awareness on the need for "people’s participation in bringing about a just, inclusive, sustainable and lasting peace.”

“Given the scarce resources that the country could possibly afford to conduct a massive campaign, we believe that September is the most appropriate time for the activity. We shall once again seek the endorsement and active support of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) as soon as we have finished refining the system and approaches that shall be undertaken,” he added.

Alcanzare went on to describe how they envision how the campaign can reach out to the 42,046 barangays through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) considering that only barangay officials, barangay tanods or watchmen and watchwomen, barangay health qorkers, and Sangguniang Kabataan are the only persons authorized to go house-to-house in their respective Barangays.

“Could we not consider asking for the help of the Department of Education to reach out to pupils and students in both public and private elementary and high schools? After all, we are targeting the youth, particularly the children of OFWS, who are most vulnerable to recruitment by the legal fronts of the CPP-NPA,”  said Coco Naik, Vice-Chairperson for Political Affairs of AKO OFW.

“By getting DepEd on board, we can pre-empt their recruitment into the armed struggle by being made to believe that they will be heroes by being part of the goal of violently overthrowing the government,” Naik added.

Alcanzare confessed that Yes for Peace has been adopted by the DepEd as part of the Education for All Program initiated worldwide by the United Nations as far back as 1995 during the term of the late Secretary Ricardo T. Gloria and was implemented as a component of its peace education program through the Araling Panlipunan and Araling Pagpapaganda ng Ugali. 

"All Secretaries and Officers-in-Charge of the DepEd have issued a Memorandum for the implementation of Yes for Peace,” he said.

“In August 2018, the Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo convinced then Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Ano to support Yes for Peace,” he revealed, adding, “I am dumbfounded that barely six days after the J-7 issued a directive to support Yes for Peace, France Castro of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) badgered Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones into withdrawing DepEd support during the hearing on the proposed budget of DepEd which she claimed she never heard of.”

Emil Carreon, a co-host of UP UP Pilipinas wondered, “Is Castro really a teacher? How could she claim not knowing a campaign that DepEd has been waging in classrooms across albeit silently for more than two decades?”

“The suspension caught us by surprise because there was no reason cited,” said lawyer Domingo B. Alidon, president the DepEd National Employees Union (DepEd NEU), which has been behind the campaign as far back as 2001.

“Perhaps, Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones and the DepEd management had no choice because Castro and the Makabayan bloc would have given DepED a hard time in getting our budget approved,” Alidon said. 

“We just learned about the reason behind it when we got hold of a copy of the Minutes of the Meeting that particular budget hearing when Castro insisted that elementary and high school students should not be involved in Yes for Peace because they are too young to understand the complexities of the national quest for peace,” he elaborated.

“We are now aghast why Castro is silent on the recruitment of junior and senior high school students by legal front organizations of the CPP-NPA,” he adde.

“Be that as it may, we shall endeavor to do the best that we can to convince Secretary Briones to once again support Yes for Peace to help put an end to the armed conflicts,” Alidon volunteered, adding that, “As far as we see it, the questionnaires can be distributed and retrieved through modular education system that has been set-up by schools districts in all cities and municipalities nationwide.” 

National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Commissioner Yusof J. Mando, Secretary General of Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan and NCMF Representative to the National Task Force to End the Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) told the PIA-NCR, “I shall personally liaise with the NTF-ELCAC, DILG, DepEd, OPAPP, the Post Office and other concerned agencies for most effective, economical and doable means to implement Yes for Peace.”

“Particularly, I will propose that the questionnaires of Yes for Peace be incorporated into the learning modules distributed and retrieved by DepEd nationwide as DepEd NEU President Atty Alidon, AKO OFW Dr Chie Umandal and AKO OFW Vice Chairman Ka Coco Naik have suggested,” Mando said, “Perhaps, it is the most cost-efficient and resource effective of doing it.”

For his part, Jeffey Celis, better known as Ka Eric Almendras, Chairperson of SAMBAYANAN (Sentrong Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Bayan), an organization of former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) said in an earlier episode of UP UP Pilipinas, “Yes for Peace could be an instrument in raising people’s awareness on their inherent right to peace, documenting their stand against armed struggle and terrorism and mobilizing their pro-active involvement and collective participation in bringing peace and development to their communities.”

Celis was the Chairperson of the Sectoral Unification, Capability Building, Empowerment and Mobilization (SUCBEM) cluster of the NTF-ELCAC, which propose for incorporation of the adoption and refinement of Yes for Peace as one of its undertakings to end the local armed conflicts into the National Action Plan submitted by National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. and approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

It can be recalled that the UP Board of Regents has committed its support to Yes for Peace inside and outside the University when it declared all campuses a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) and offered it as a venue and mediating institution between the government and all armed revolutionary forces in December 1992, an offer that the CPP-NPA-NDF has consistently ignored until President Duterte declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group and finally called off peace negotiations before signing Executive Order No. 70 that created the NTF-ELCAC. (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (

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