GANDARA, Samar, April 12 (PNA) – The Philippine Army based in this town has renewed its call on rebels in Samar to end their armed struggle and support the peace and development initiatives of the government.

“They must lay down their arms and go back to normal life,” said Lt. Col. Seigfred Tubalado, commander of the Army’s 43rd Infantry Battalion.

“The fact that President Aquino has pursued such peace plan without question is an important step towards reaching a final settlement, and perhaps is one of the most important conditions for this to happen,” Tubalado added.

Violence has claimed several lives, including of innocent civilians caught in crossfire. Thousands of residents from the conflict zone have left their homes and go to safer grounds, according to him.

“I know our people need peace which is what the government is pursuing. We want to bring lasting peace, a peace that will not return our people to another senseless war,” he said.

He also reiterated support to the administration’s plan by saying it is absolutely necessary for authorities to engage in dialogue with those against whom they have been fighting.

“It is important that this dialogue opens the way to both parties, so as to find solutions that will be acceptable to both sides in order to ensure that people in conflict affected areas have no doubt that they are an integral part of the region.

The government, according to him, will do what it thinks is best to the people of Eastern Visayas.

The remote villages in Samar have been tagged by government troops as hotbed of the New People’s Army. It was noted that poor road network, poverty and low level of education were the major factors why communism thrived in Samar provinces. (PNA)