Over 60 bikers join 'Bike for Peace' drive in Cebu City
By Ileana Cortes / Philippine Information Agency
CEBU CITY, Cebu – At least 63 bikers joined the nationwide simultaneous "Bike for Peace and Justice" activity held in this city on July 17.
The Joint Regional Task Force to End Local Coummunist Armed Conflict in Central Visayas (JRTF7-ELCAC), led by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-7) under Regional Director Leocadio Trovela, and Atty. Ian Kenneth Lucero, the concurrent officer-in-charge of DILG Cebu City, welcomed the participants of the event.
Also present during the event were Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, Young Lawyers Association of Cebu President Atty. Mark Gregory Avila, a representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, and former rebel Ka Dereb who gave their messages of support to the Bike for Peace and Justice.
Garganera, in his message, recalled the event that led to the death of cousins Keith and Nolven Absalon, to whom the activity was dedicated to.
"Forty days ago, a group of bikers in Masbate together with Keith and his cousin were biking just like what you are doing here and then suddenly a bomb explodes, an improvised APM bomb, killing Keith and his cousin. Keith is a football player. He's 21 years old. Full of hope. Right after that, the CPP-NPA claimed such barbaric act. My question is what have they accomplished? They're trying to instill fear in us. But the fact that we are all here, it's an indication that we will never be afraid of them and we are seeking for justice," he said.
"As the other lawyers here talked about justice, I want to talk about peace. As they say, peace is a stress-free state of calmness and security, not war, conflict or violence. It is also a peace of mind. Even though you have claimed justice, the question is, do you have peace within yourself?" he added.
In support of Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte's commitment to address the long standing communist insurgency in the country, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) organized the nationwide social mobilization activity to strongly condemn the use of anti-personnel landmines (APMs), a violation of the International Humanitarian Law, and the brutal killing by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) of the Absalon cousins, Keith and Nolven.
Keith, 21, and Nolven, 41, were biking with a group when an APM exploded by the roadside in Masbate City on June 6.
Nolven’s 16-year-old son, Chrisbin Daniel, sustained injuries.
The NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, owned up to the Absalons’ deaths.
Former rebel Ka Dereb, for his part, strongly condemned the atrocities done by the communist terrorist groups, saying, "Sakit palandungon nga ang usa ka inocente nga naglantaw sa kalamboan sa atong nasud gipatay lamang na wala'y ka laban-laban. Ang NPA, ako isip commander, labag sa balaud namo ang pagpatay sa sibilyan na wala'y ka laban-laban pero unsa'y gihimo? (It is hard to think that an innocent who only wants to see the nation progress was killed without being able to defend himself. The NPA, I as a commander [before], it is against our law to kill any civilian who are unable to protect themselves, but what did they do?)."
"Sulod ra sa partido, sulod ra sa han-ay sa New People's Army ug sa han-ay sa National Democratic Front ang ilang pagbalibad na ilang gihimo na ang makatarunganon. Supak ug dili makatarunganong gihimo sa katawhan na musukol batok sa gobyerno kay wala'y muabot na hangtod sa hangtod na kalinaw (In the party, the order of the New People's Army and the National Democratic Front, they acknowledged that what they did was not right. It is not right when the people go against the government because then we will not be able to achieve lasting peace)," he added.
A day before the activity, July 16, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed the conduct of the cycling event in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ, with Cebu City under MGCQ status.
The cycling event's start and end point was at Plaza Independencia, Brgy. San Roque with a 17-kilometer long route around Cebu City.
Registration started as early as 4:45 a.m. followed by stretching exercises.
The program officially started at 6:00 a.m. and ended at 7:45 a.m.
The Cebu City Police office led by P/Maj. Edgar Labe established an Advance Command Post to ensure that the minimum public health standards are observed and security for the organizers and participants is provided. (IDC/PIA7)