Stone of Hope Defense Foundation Chairman Phebie Jame Dy aims a sniper rifle used by the Marines. Standing were the Office of Participatory Governance director Undersecretary Wendell Cabrera, Stone of Hope Defense Foundation President Artemio Dy and Marine snipers.

The Philippine Marine Corps Foundation Inc. (PMCFI), in partnership with the Stone of Hope Defense Foundation Inc. held the inaugural Friends of Marines (FOM) Friendship Shoot in commemoration of National Heroes Day at Philippine Marines Corps headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last Monday.

Philippine Marine Corps Commandant Major Gen. Charlton Sean M. Gaerlan and Stone of Hope Defense Foundation Chairman Phebie Jame Dy, together with PMCFI President Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Juancho M. Zaban, led the launch of the FOM Friendship Shoot at the Marine Corps Force Development Center's 50-meter firing range.

Other guests included Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin Remulla, Stone of Hope Defense Foundation President Artemio Dy, Office of Participatory Governance Director Wendell Cabrera, PMCFI President Col. Romulo “Bim” Quemado II, Marine Capt. Joseph Andrew Asuncion, Marine Corps Public Affairs Office Assistant Director Capt. Orchie Bobis, and Marine Capt. Jason Aguirre.

The event was attended by about 100 participants from the private and public sector organizations supporting the PMCFI's Karangalan, Katungkulan at Kabayanihan program.

The Marine Corps conducted a briefing on the four rules of gun safety at the start of the event to educate gun owners so as to prevent any untoward incident. The rules are: 1. Consider every gun is loaded; 2. Never let the muzzle of a gun point at anything you are not willing to shoot; 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot; 4. Be sure of your target and what is around it.

Various high-powered assault rifles being used by the Marine Corps in implementing anti-insurgency measures were also showcased in the event.

Maj. Gen. Gaerlan took the opportunity to recognize the collective efforts and generosity of sponsors during the recent gift-giving program for Marine personnel and their dependents. Among the sponsors were PMCFI, Stone of Hope Foundation, FOM, Marine Corps Force Development Center, Coastal Defense Regiment, and the Philippine Coast Guard.

For her part, MsDy reiterated her support for the Philippine Marine Corps and PMCFI's advocacies, saying, "As a daughter of a former soldier, it is my personal advocacy to help the wounded soldiers and their respective families and loved ones who lost their lives in the war to ensure that we can sleep soundly safe at night and to maintain the peace and order in the country."

MsDy urged the private sector to help the government reach out to more poor families living in remote areas of the country to make them feel that both the government and the private sector are ready to help them so that they will not be deluded to join the communist rebels and terrorist groups.

The Stone of Hope Defense Foundation, she said, sees itself as "the protector of the protectors of the people" by using modern technology as ground support to the military frontliners, i.e., the soldiers.

"Our vision is to be the leading private organization in advocating the enhancement of the Philippines defense posture in establishing a peaceful orderly and equitable society while our mission is to help secure the Philippines through research and development, self-resilience in software-based intelligence service through effective and reliable cyber security solutions, as well as the development of a reliable and effective defense manufacturing hub in the country," Ms Dy said.

Col. Quemado said the top priority of the PMCFI, in partnership with the Stone of Hope Defense Foundation, is to provide a livelihood program to the poorest of the poor living in the far flung areas of the country who are losing faith in government. There is a need to help them realize that the government and the private sector are here and ready to help them to uplift their lives and at the same time eradicate the scourge of insurgency in the country, he said.

He added that destitution and desperation are among the roots of insurgency in the country. Due to a lack of education and social awareness, he said many innocent, impoverished civilians living in remote areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao can be fooled easily to join communist and terrorist groups of Abu Sayyaf, and the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army and the National Democratic Front.

Combatting insurgency and its roots, he said, should be a joint effort of soldiers and the community, assisted by the government and public sector.

“The real heroes are not just the Marines or the soldiers. Every peace-loving citizen who actively participates in maintaining a peaceful environment to attain a progressive community are all heroes. We need to help our brethren who are deprived of a peaceful community by providing them education and basic services," Col. Quemado added.

Meanwhile, the Stone of Hope Defense Foundation announced that it will be hosting an inter-agency shoot fest tournament to be held from the month of September to November this year. # (with photo)

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