Healing where the wounds hurt most, Cpt Villarosa in pursuit of peace and development
Special Forces Paratrooper Cpt. Ron JR Villarosa was selected as an Honoree for Community Development in Military Service by The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) and Junior Chamber International here on January 23, 2020.
Healing where the wounds hurt most, then LT Villarosa started peace and development projects where most people would dare not - in the heart of armed communities: the MNLFs, MILFs, ASG Returnees and Maute-IS groups.
Cpt Villarosa grew up in Saudi Arabia from 1991-2000. This allowed him to stand on premises without prejudice to religion or race. In his words: “Hindi kami pumunta sa Mindanao para pumapatay lang. Andito kami para protektahan ang Pilipino – kahit Muslim ka man, Kristiyano, Tagalog, Meranao, Bisaya, Yakan, Tausug, nakapag-aral man o hindi,basta Pilipino ka,tungkulin namin na protektahan kayo.” These words have been translated to action – requiring a different level of commitment that entailed sacrificing personal finances and family time to serve the people.
He started community development works after the Zamboanga Siege. Instrumental to the transformation of a former MNLF Camp into a school, he helped resolve the educational needs of the MNLFs in upper Garlayan, Maluso, Basilan Province. The project was dubbed "From Guns to Books”. "Seed the Future" project was up next, an agricultural endeavor to prosper socio-economic opportunities in MNLF areas.
Up scaling, he introduced a playground set to divert the energy of the young MILFs in Al-Barka from violence to socially cohesive activities- Battlegrounds to Playgrounds. Soon, soldiers came in driving tractors-"From Tanks to Tractors, From Battlefields to Ricefields" was the theme.
What applies to the gander applies to the geese- 1LT Villarosa
His peace and development works on armed communities would soon be a part of the Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) for Peace – a program for Abu Sayyaf Returnees. The program was not without resistance. To the surprise of many, it was the military–among which the nominee, who strongly advocated for the program. “Kung kami ngang sundalo, nahihirapan, tinatamaan ng bala at namamatay, handang patawarin ang kalaban, kayo pa kayang natakot lang? Kung gusto nyo silang patayin, hayaan nyo muna kami na bahugin sila..makapag aral manlang, matutong rumespeto, makakain lang sila ng maayos – maranasan lang nila maging Pilipino. Kung gusto nyo silang patayin, gawin nyo– pero anung pinagkaiba nyo sa terorista na handang pumatay dahil sa paniniwala lang na masama sila? How would that make a difference?”as he would declame openly.
With his expertise, 1LT Villarosa was sent to Marawi during the height of the siege. He prevented the recruitment of violent extremists among the ranks of vulnerable IDPS in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur. “Experience has taught me how they move – and knowing where they would hit, I know just where to fortify.” The nominee did extensive initiatives, with the meanest of resources, to exert effective governance to IDPs in Saguiran. He liaised to provide for their basic needs, thus, reducing the risk of having IDPs dragged into further conflict. He initiated developmental efforts within the limited IDP premises. These has been acknowledged by then Director of Task Force Bangon Marawi, USec Cesar B Yano.
After the siege, he worked on launching the Returnee Reintegration Program in Lanao del Sur for Maute-IS returnees. He hatched the idea of a research on the returnees as a basis for reintegration policies. He soon started development works in areas of the MILF and MNLFs as a result of the research. With partners, he replicated the same efforts in Basilan to MILF Areas in Lanao del Sur. Anticipating same resistance, he made several engagements ahead of time for the approval of key leaders and personalities. An acknowledgement of deeds on the extensive peace and development programs with armed groups is testified by no less the Secretary of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Carlito Galvez.
Before leaving Lanao del Sur, CPT Villarosa’s team initiated the advancement of an irrigation system to benefit more than 200 hectares of land and provide opportunities to more than a hundred farmers from the local MNLF and MILF community. The idle land, which stood unproductive for more than fifty(50) years, became a flourishing farm after an earth-dug canal was made within just five(5) days. The farm today stands to serve the locals with food amidst the COVID19 pandemic–a development offered by the people who used to drop bombs–now dropping seeds of hope.
Quotes from authorities that illustrate Cpt Villarosa's achievements:
ON CPT VILLAROSA’s WORK ON PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN BASILAN AND MARAWI FOR A PERIOD OF 7 YEARS
The efforts of CPT Ron Villarosa for his Civil-Military work greatly contributed towards peace, reconciliation and development in the conflict-torn areas in Basilan and Lanao del Sur, which proves why he should be selected as one of the JCI’s The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines for 2020.
- Secretary Carlito G Galvez Jr, Presidential Advisor on Peace, Reconcilliation and Unity (OPAPP)
ON CPT VILLAROSA’s INVOLVEMENT EXAMPLARY EFFORTS DURING THE MARAWI SIEGE AND REHABILITATION EFFORTS THEREAFTER
As a man of action, he is indeed an exemplar figure to the security sector. He applies good judgement in the conduct of his duties and delivers remarkable results. Despite his accomplishments, he remains grounded and dedicated to add value to others.
- Undersecretary Cesar B Yano, DND Undersecretary for Defense Operations, Department of National Defense, Executive Director, (March-October 2017), Task Force Bangon Marawi
ON CPT VILLAROSA’s INITIATIVES ON PEACE AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN CONFLICT-TORN AREAS.
This young officer’s passion and commitment for the Filipino People cannot be expressed by words alone. His ability to converge resources from both government and non-government institutions at the national and local level to resolve peace and developmental issues is exceptional. He executes with the least of guidance and delivers superb results. He is a silent worker, working earnestly while avoiding the limelight. He is well loved by the people in communities he has served. His untiring passion to help vulnerable communities has made every reassignment a tearful moment. More than merely fighting the enemy, he has committed himself to building communities – more than just leaving a footprint, he sets ripples of positive change that deeply affects others.
- Lieutenant General Ramiro Manuel A Rey, Former Commander, Joint Task Force Ranao
CPT Villarosa is relentless in pursuit of peace and development. He does more than just action – he delivers results. He breaks the status quo to bring positive change. His works in Lanao del Sur with the different armed groups, to include the Maute-IS resturnees have prospered a milestone for peace and development. His deeds have brought the presence of the government closer to those in dire need of it most.
Brigadier General Romeo S Brawner, Former Commander, 103rd Infantry Brigade in Lanao del Sur
ON CPT VILLAROSA’S ACCOMPLISHMENT TO PROMOTE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SAVE THE CHILDREN OF WAR (MINDANAO) ASSOCIATION, INC:
“He was instrumental in the creation of the first Children’s Park and Playground in the Municipality of Al-Barka…He was also deeply into the promotion of education. He led several school house refurbishment projects in Barangay Danapah, Al-Barka…Captain Ron Villarosa has given much to the people of Basilan…His daily personal acts changed the way these solider-wary people of Basilan saw these same soldiers.”
- Dra. Arlyn Jawad – Jumao-as, President, Save the Children of War (Mindanao) Association, Inc.
ON CPT VILLAROSA’S IRRIGATION PROJECT BENEFITTING THE MILFS, MNLFS AND OTHER LOCAL COMMUNITIES IN DITSA-AN RAMAIN, LANAO DEL SUR:
“Food is peace served on a table. By giving us food to eat, he has served us peace. By teaching us how to nurture the land for food, he has taught us how to sustain peace.
...Captain Villarosa made us feel that there is a government working, serving and protecting us. “
- Nasroding M Badio, MILF-BIAF Deputy Commander, 103rd Base Command
ON THE PARTNERSHIP WITH PEACE-CROPS TO SOCIO-ECONOMICALLY EMPOWER VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES IN LANAO DEL SUR:
Our strong ties and constant collaboration with Capt. Ron in Lanao del Sur have enabled our organization to spread far and wide. Over time, this co-creative interaction has helped dispel much of our bias-laden perception that the military is capable at resolving insurgency only through rigorous warfare at the battlefields. In this young officer and gentleman do we see the human side of a soldier whose heart pulsates for the rehabilitation of those in the margin displaced by atrocities, teaching them to harness and recover peace and economic security from the bounty of their land.
Robert de la Serna, Executive Director, Peace Crops Incorporated, a Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) 2020 awardee