CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur – The Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Army’s 9th Infantry “Spear” Division signed a joint Memorandum of Agreement declaring the province of Catanduanes as “Conflict Manageable and Ready for further Development”, on Monday, November 24, in the Provincial Capitol of Virac, Catanduanes.
The joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the AFP and the Provincial Government was signed by Major General Yerson E Depayso, Commander, 9th Infantry (Spear) Division, Philippine Army, and Governor Araceli B. Wong of Catanduanes. Witnesses during the signing of the MOA were AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio P Catapang Jr.; AFP Southern Luzon Commander Major General Ricardo R Visaya; Hon. Cesar V Sarmiento, Congressman of the Lone District of Catanduanes; Bishop Manolo A delos Santos of the Diocese of Virac; Police Provincial Director PSSupt Adelio Benjamin G Castillo; and Vice Governor Jose J Teves Jr.
It can be recalled that in 1980s, the province of Catanduanes is known to be a quiet place, a model of development with its religious communities, and safe from bad elements. In 1990s, armed rebels have influence more than 100 villages in the province.
In 2001, in the effort to recover the security and tranquility of the province, different units under 9ID were deployed to solve the insurgency problem in the island province.
In 2010, a newly organized 83rd Infantry Battalion was deployed and assumed the internal peace and security responsibility.
Lieutenant Colonel Bernardo Fortez, the Battalion Commander of 83IB,9ID, PA, stated that the insurgents’ strength have been reduced to 27 with 14 firearms and cleared all 100 affected barangays from enemy influence as of 2nd Qtr this year.
“The heightened Internal Peace and Security operations and peace and development programs of the government with the support of the stakeholders resulted to the decrease in the number of members and weapons of the rebel group.” he added.
A Joint Task Force headed by Governor Wong will be created for the formulation of necessary implementing rules and regulations of the agreement, especially in the promotion of peace and progress, with the cooperation of the AFP and PNP, and in partnership with the local government of Catanduanes.
In agreement, the lead role in maintaining internal peace and security will be upon the Catanduanes Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC). The provincial government of Catanduanes, along with its component units, and other stakeholders have significantly contributed to the internal peace and security operations (IPSO) of the AFP units by way of formulating and implementing socio-economic development programs, addressing the prevailing issues exploited by the CNN.
It is a manifestation that the people of Catanduanes genuinely aspire to move their province towards development.
Major General Yerson Depayso, 9ID Commander, ensures that the Army in Bicol Region is committed in accomplishing its mission in establishing peaceful and secured environment conducive to sustainable economic development. He added that, “The AFP, together with the PNP, the local government, and the peace-loving people of Catanduanes will continue to work together in the spirit of “Bayanihan” to preserve and further enhance the peace and security situation in order to sustain the socio-economic progress of the province.
(Press Release and Photos from 9ID, DPAO)