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some sorsogon officials, according to army commander: ‘Sleeping with the enemy’

By Bobby Q. Labalan SORSOGON CITY --- Some local officials in the province are giving aid to the enemies of the state. This was revealed by the top army commander in the province as government forces try to strengthen peace and security in the entire Sorsogon province while fighting between government forces and the Maute group continues to rage in Marawi City. Brigadier General Fernando Trinidad, commanding officer of the 903rd Infantry Brigade (IBr) based in Castilla, Sorsogon, said some local officials continue to extend assistance to local rebels in the province, referring to the New People’s Army (NPA). “That’s one of our main concerns in the anti-insurgency campaign,” Trinidad said even as he assured that peace and security remain stable. The army commander, whose jurisdiction covers Sorsogon and Masbate provinces, said they continue to monitor some elected officials who provide help to NPA rebels despite their being part of the government. He, however, declined to name names, cite the positions or to specify the assistance being provided to the rebel group by these local officials. “They know who they are, and they know what they are doing,” the official said. Trinidad hinted that something is being done to address this anomaly as he expressed dismay over the situation. But he assured that the involvement of some local officials was not jeopardizing the anti-insurgency campaign just delaying it. Trinidad also confirmed that army troopers have been deployed to strategic areas in the province especially in port areas to augment police forces. He said he is in close coordination with Senior Supt. Ronaldo Cabral, Sorsogon police director, in monitoring the peace and security situation in the province. Cabral had earlier said that “Task Force Puerto” had been manning seaports in the province particularly those in Matnog and Pilar to thwart any possible infiltration by any lawless elements especially those coming from Mindanao. Matnog and Pilar ports serve as gateway for those coming from the Visayas and Mindanao. Last year, Sorsogon province had already been declared as “conflict-manageable and development-ready area”. The declaration puts the Philippine National Police in full charge of the peace and security operation as the army assumes the role as a support group. Trinidad again extended the arms of reconciliation to the rebels as he assured them of a better life than what they have now as members of the insurgent organization. “They should take advantage of the blooming economy of the province and the entire country,” he added. “As always, we also have the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) which provides cash assistance as well as socio-economic interventions, capability building and livelihood trainings to rebels who return to the fold of the law,” he added. Trinidad said rebel life in the boondocks would only worsen the economic situation of the members of the NPA. Mediaworks Communication

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