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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gov’t. agencies, civil societies urged to help resolve security problems

By Franklin P. Gumapon

LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur – “Development can only take place when the people feel safe.”

Speaking in a program commemorating the 79th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division at Camp Major Cesar Sang-an in Barangay Pulacan here on May 5, 2015, BGen. Gerardo F. Barrientos Jr. underscored the importance of peace in effecting development in the community.

Barrientos assured the public that the division would continue doing its role “in the preservation of internal peace and security…for progress and prosperity of our constituents and communities.”

“We are ready to respond to any threat posed by lawless elements…and any group that challenges our efforts at achieving peace will face the full might of the 1st infantry division,” he declared.

He also reported that the strength of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) in the division’s area of responsibility had decreased by 28 percent as a result of Tabak’s anti-insurgency campaign.  With this, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay and Misamis Occidental had been declared “conflict-manageable, development-ready” provinces.

“We are working on Zamboanga del Sur to be declared ‘conflict-manageable, development-ready province’ within the year,” he added.

To resolve security problems in the area, Barrientos appealed to government agencies and civil society groups alike to take part in this endeavor “through good governance, humanitarian activities, community empowerment and support to flagship projects and infrastructure programs.”

Major General Rodolfo Demosthenes C. Santillan, Army vice commander, came over to represent Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri during the 79th founding anniversary of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, which was established on Jan. 18, 1936 in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The said division was transferred to its present location at Camp Major Cesar Sang-an, Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur in 1987 and it is now serving the whole of Zamboanga Peninsula including the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.