Philippines

Army in Cot Prov on track to end local communist armed conflict

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KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato Province, Mar. 13 (PIA)--- In line with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Executive Order 70, creating a task force to end local communist armed conflict, the 602nd and 901st brigades of the Philippine Army based in Cotabato Province are beefing up efforts to address the insurgency in the their respective areas of jurisdiction.

2Lt. Jennymor Amod, assistance civil military operations officer of the 901st Brigade based in Magpet town said the brigade intensifies on-going operations on peace and law enforcement.

“Since we transferred here from Bicol Region in 2018, our brigade, under the Peace, Law Enforcement, and Development Support (PLEDS) Cluster of the task force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), is bridging residents in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas to the local government unit,” Amod said emphasizing that this is to address the needs of the residents through community support program.

Just this year, area clearing evaluations in the villages of Alegria and Del Carmen in President Roxas town and Binay in Magpet were conducted to assess the development of military operations.

“Our brigade is also into information operations not only for residents but also for community leaders,” she noted adding that January this year, a community leaders’ forum was conducted in Kidapawan City to orient barangay officials about ELCAC and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

For the part of the 602nd brigade, Maj. Leonardo Javillonar, brigade operations officer, noted that since there is a minimal presence of the New People’s Army in their area of responsibility (AOR) their focus is strengthening more their military and civilian efforts.

These include promoting an IED-free community, neutralizing the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, creating strong alliance with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, and settling ‘rido’ or clan wars.

“For the promotion of an improvised explosive ordnance (IED)-free community, we always involve the local government unit (LGU),” he said adding that they are encouraging each LGU to have at least one K9 unit, advising establishment owners aslo to install closed-circuit television cameras.

As regards to the initiatives in neutralizing the BIFF, the 602nd Brigade, according to the official, is improving their fighting capability to include combat and intelligence operations and strengthening coordination with other law enforcing agencies.

“We also have this Bahay Tagapagpalaya which is a half-way house version for the transformation of former rebels,” Javillonar noted.

As to the creation of strong alliance with armed peace group like the MNLF and the MILF, the army official said they are reinforcing initiatives to prevent the clash between them and the two groups since the brigade considers these groups as peace allies.

For the settlement of clan wars, Javillonar said they are monitoring 11 clan wars in the towns of Pikit, Cotabato and Montawal, Maguindanao.

“We have pushed for the creation of a Conflict settlement Advisory Council to address this matter. Also, in facilitating the settlement, we focus in the aspects of communication, consultation, and commitment,” he emphasized.

Both representatives from the two army brigades presented their peace and security initiatives during the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) orientation for media practitioners in Cotabato Province held Wednesday.

The two representatives also called upon the media to help the military in providing the public with information regarding government’s efforts to address local communist armed conflict.

The media orientation was initiated by the Philippine Information Agency Region XII as part of its information, education, and communication activities to support ELCAC. (PIA-Cotabato City)