Zamboanga Sibugay Province takes Lead Role in Peace & Security

Camp Sang-an, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur –  The The 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division led by Brigadier General Gerardo F Barrientos Jr, Provincial Government of Zamboanga Sibugay Province led by Governor Wilter Y Palma and PNP thru the Police Regional Office 9 led by Police Chief Superintendent Edgar O. Basbas jointly signed the Memorandum of Agreement on the Joint Declaration of the Province of Zamboanga as “Conflict Manageable and Development Ready” (CMDR) on November 26, 2014; 10:00 a.m. at the Provincial Capitol, Municipality of Ipil.

The Joint Signing Ceremony was witnessed by hundreds of Sibugaynons with their local officials.  The signing of the MOA was also witnessed by Lieutenant Generals John S. Bonafos, Vice Chief of Staff, AFP and Rustico O. Guerrero, Commander, Western Mindanao Command, AFP and Brigadier General Demosthenes C. Santillan, Vice Commander, Philippine Army.

This is the second time a province under the 1st Infantry Division that was declared as CMDR.  This declaration is in line with the pronouncement of General Pio Gregorio P Catapang Jr, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines to fast track the hand-over of Internal Peace and Security Operations to the Provincial Governments and local Philippine National Police to  pave the way for economic growth and development in the communities.

The declaration of Zamboanga Sibugay Province as “Conflict Manageable and Development Ready” will not affect the deployment of forces but rather  enhance the relationship between the LGU-PNP-AFP in response to the various threats in the community such as the presence of Communist Party of the Philippine-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front (CNN), organized crime groups and other lawless elements.  This initiave is also to strengthen and capacitate the local PNP to take the primary responsibility in terms of Peace, Security and Public Safety.

The issuance of the joint declaration is a manifestation that the level of insurgency in the province has dwindled in the past years due to the continuous decrease of their manpower, firearms, affected barangays and activities. Likewise, the CNN politico-military organizations have been reduced to a minimal level that it no longer pose a serious threat to peace and order in the province.

Brigadier General Gerardo F. Barrientos Jr AFP, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division said, “The joint declaration of  Zamboanga Sibugay Province as Conflict Manageable and Development Ready Province is a manifestation of a generally peaceful environment in the province.  There is no presence of CPP-NPA-NDF monitored since the start this year.  It is fitting and proper that now is the right time to declare the province as one of the haven for investors  and tourist. The strength of the NPA in Zamboanga Sibugay has become insignificant and can be readily addressed by the PNP.   However, the Tabak Division and AFP as a whole will continue  to support and work with the local government units, other government agencies, the civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to maintain the peace and security in Zamboanga Sibugay and likewise the other provinces in Western Mindanao.”

Lieutenant General Guerrero said in his message, “The AFP work hard to support the local government.  I would like to congratulate the local government of Sibugay. Hindi po naming kayang gawin ito ng AFP at PNP.  Kailangan nating magtulong tulong upang makamit natin ang minimithi na kapayapaan.  We will continue to work and support the local government in its efforts in peace and development.”

While Lieutenant General Bonafos who represented the General Gregorio P Catapang, AFP Chief of Staff said in his message, “I am very delighted and proud of this day shall be remembered as a momentous occasion as the institution of the government as it comes to terms for the greater benefit of people of Zamboanga Sibugay.  This worthy undertaking serves as the security bond between and among instrumentalities of the government for progress.”

According to Governor Palma, “The signing of this declaration will strengthen and enhance the collaboration and partnership of  AFP-LGU-PNP in serving and protecting the people of Misamis Occidental.  I assure the communities of MisOcc that there will be no changes in the peace and security set-up of the current Army forces of the AFP because it will continue its efforts together with the PNP in bringing peace and development in our province. This will also provide the province more investment opportunities resulting to infrastructure development, job generation and over-all economic activity.”

Coinciding with the ceremony was the signing of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program, a government program under the DILG that will give them a livelihood assistance worth Sixty Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000) and fire arms renumeration if an active rebel will surface. The program aim to attract active NPA rebels to abandon the armed struggle and return to mainstream society to rejoin their famiies and start a new life.

Press Release by the 1ID, PA

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