Philippines: Military moves for drafting of provincial peace agreement in Mt Province

Report
from Government of the Philippines
Published on 16 Jan 2010 View Original
by L. Lopez

Bontoc, Mountain Province (16 January) -- A ranking military officer urged local officials and sectoral leaders here to come-up with a provincial peace agreement as tool to promote and further improve the peace condition in the province.

Brig. Gen. Rommel Gomez, Commanding General of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Gamu, Isabela, during the emergency meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council(PPOC) last Monday said that while Mt. Prov. was consistently cited for having an outstanding PPOC, he said peace efforts can still be improved through the peace agreement.

Gomez, a native son of Bontoc, said issues can be effectively addressed if leaders would sit together with the constituents and draft solutions, which he claims could be reached in the Provincial Peace Agreement.

Asked to elaborate on the peace agreement, Gomez said it will be up to the local leaders to frame its terms and conditions, patterned after their own needs and aspirations. He believes that solutions to peace problems can not be provided by one sector alone, not even by the AFP.While the AFP is always here to assist, it can never be the ultimate solution to local peace problems, but people of the place, he stressed.

Gomez peace briefing focused on the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) counter insurgency offensive and its role in setting a peaceful period, in time for the May 10 elections.

He informed that government troops from the Army's 54th Infantry Battalion will be deployed as augmentation peace force in Mountain Province. He assured that these troops do not come to look for combat but instead offer assistance in search for peace.

Gomez gave an overview of the peace situation in his area of responsibility, which includes Mountain Province, revealing that there are still seven communist guerilla fronts operating along the Kalinga-Abra line that could affect the peace situation of the province.

These groups, he said could disrupt orderly operations of government, including the conduct of the May 10 elections.

This is one of the reasons of the deployment of additional troops, assuring at the same time that these troops are properly briefed to observe the AFP's high moral and integrity and respect for human rights at all times.

He called on residents of the place to report any complaint of misconduct from the troops and vowed to give appropriate action. (PIA)