MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/24 Feb) — Seven of the city’s 23 gangs convened last week and vowed to make peace with each other, a few days before the soft opening of Kaamulan 2013.
Baptist pastor Richard Sibayan, who initiated the activity for the youth groups in the province last February 15 showed MindaNews photos of representatives of the seven gangs a symbolic scarf to a purple scarf, which Sibayan said represented Godly acts.
The ceremony started with a prayer by Sibayan followed by a showcase of talent from the different groups. He also spent time sharing about his past life as a city urchin or gang member when he was 13 to 21 years old. He shared his conversion at the age of 22 seeking Christ after a “dark life.”
The pastor said the gangs vowed to stop fighting, especially during the Kaamulan Festival. They also vowed to monitor their own groups and coordinate with each other.
“Some cases in the past were blamed on local gangs when these were initiated by groups coming from others towns or areas,” he said.
In 2009, the celebration of the Kaamulan, an annual festivity, was marred by reports of gangsters allegedly hitting on revelers and other gangsters. The police reported 26 persons arrested in 38 crime incidents reported to the Malaybalay City Police Office at the end of the festival. The number did not include the 11 other suspects arrested for concealing bladed weapons after police frisking operations.
A number of the cases were blamed on gangster wars, Sibayan said. He told MindaNewss this became one of the reasons why he decided to focus on gangs in his Malaybalay Youth Transformation Movement
Sibayan identified the seven gangs that participated in last week’s gathering as “Bloods,” “Crip”, “TBS,” “Bleed,” “Odacrem,” “Black Scorpion,” and “Yo.”
These groups claim 300 active members out of a thousand estimated gang memberships in the city, he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)