In violence-plagued Central Mindanao, a region where intergenerational secessionist movements and blood feuds weave themselves into the very tapestry of society, the pursuit of peace remains an ever-elusive ideal. But it is not without hope—as long as there are public servants and peacekeepers willing to take on the challenge of moving towards it.
Lieutenant Colonel Ricky P. Bunayog has taken this challenge as his life mission. With the experience of having spent many years in an area that has already seen too much war, Lt. Col. Bunayog realizes his mission to serve as a warrior is, and should always be, balanced with his duty to become a peacekeeper.
As Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the 6th Infantry Division in Central Mindanao, he has facilitated hundreds of combat operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other enduring armed lawless groups. These operations resulted to the neutralization of high-value criminals and the recovery of various war materials and ammunitions.
But Lt. Col. Bunayog’s counterterrorism initiatives go beyond executing combat missions. Aside from bearing down hard on dangerous terrorists, he recognizes the need to pursue socio-economic and non-combat activities to win the peace.
Chief among Lt. Col. Bunayog’s non-combat initiatives as Commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion is the resolution of long-standing blood feuds in the province, colloquially known as ‘rido’. Rido is considered a major issue in Muslim Mindanao, and its historical records speak for itself: it involves generation upon generation of families engaging in clan wars leading to numerous casualties, depriving children of their time at school, and perpetuating divisions among the Moro people.
Lt. Col. Bunayog facilitated the settlement of ridos stemming from land conflicts and religious clashes in the five municipalities of Sultan Kudarat and ten municipalities of Maguindanao. He closely coordinated with provincial governors, town mayors, and local leaders in the said towns in reconciling the warring parties. Eventually, through his persistence, the groups settled their respective ridos and found ways to compromise.
Some of the ridos settled through his initiative were the land conflicts between the Christian and Muslim communities in the villages of Pres. Quirino, Lambayong and Lutayan of Sultan Kudarat; and GSKP, DAS, Ampatuan, Paglat, Datu Paglas and Sultan Sa Barongis in Maguindanao. A true warrior-peacekeeper, Lt. Col. Bunayog has always been neutral and never took sides in the mentioned ridos, all along establishing commandership through said conflicts.
On another front, Lt. Col. Bunayog facilitated the construction of two Madrasah and one 3-room elementary school buildings and the repair of school facilities in Maguindanao, providing Muslim children better schooling and education.
Lt. Col. Bunayog graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1993. He spearheaded the publication of Lessons Learned Handbook Volumes 8 and 9, the 6ID Warfighting Handbook, and contributed immensely in the PA Marksmanship Skills Development Program formulation. In 2008, he pursued a Master’s Degree in Training and Development at the Griffith University in Australia. Finally, in 2013, he finished his Master’s in Public Management major in Security and Development at the Development Academy of the Philippines, with a Bronze Medal for Academic Excellence. CRSAFP/MCAG