BY RHAYDZ B. BARCIA
LEGAZPI CITY---The Armed Forces of the Philippines in Bicol intensified its counter insurgency and crime through activation of Task Force Bicolandia here.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. personally witnessed and installed Major Gen. Jesus A. Manangquil, Jr., commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, as head of the Task Force Bicolandia.
The task force activation, according to Galvez, is to fortify peace and security in Bicol.
“Bicol region is being hailed for its borderless potential and is classified as one of the fast rising and most improved regions in the country. Investment and infrastructure projects are already pouring [in Bicol] even before the opening of Bicol International Airport,” he said.
“Insurgency might be declining but still [remains] a threat and we need to totally decimate them so as not to sow terror in Bicol. The activation of the task force is the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ contribution to intensify peace and security measures in the region,” he said.
He said that security is a shared responsibility and they could not do it alone as they will need the strong support from the local government units and various stakeholders.
The AFP chief also said that the new unit and activation of the task force in Bicol will be in preparation for disaster response as the region is highly vulnerable to natural calamities.
Major Gen. Manangquil, Jr. said the creation of the task force Bicolandia will enhance their effort and capabilities against the rebels’ threat. “The unity of command and synergy among the land, air, and sea components of the AFP will significantly improve our internal peace and security operations against the terrorist organization,” he explained.
“I humbly accept the paramount responsibility of leading the unified army, navy, air force to establish an environment conducive to Bicol’s economic growth. The burden and triumph now rest on my shoulders,” the task force commander said.
“Bicol region is home to most of our national heroes who fought and defended our land against foreign aggression. The sweat and blood of our forefathers ran profusely on this hallowed ground as they struggled to attain the freedom and independence we enjoy today,” Manangquil said.
“As what our forefathers have done before us, let us unite our efforts as we continue our struggle against communist terrorist aggression, criminality and mitigate the effects of natural and human-induced disasters. Let this be the moment when we, as a nation, unite under one flag. Let us honor our heroes by shunning divisiveness although that harm our fellow Filipinos. We are one country and one people, what we do in every minute of the day will be for the generations beyond our lifetime,” he added.
Mayor Noel Rosal, chairman of the Regional Peace in Order Council (RPOC) said that he was pleased with the activation of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia.
“All of us are aware of recent happenings here and abroad especially about raging conflicts either internal or external worst are the countries who have suffered years of struggle that seem to have no end. Pity the women, children, elderly and those with disabilities who are the most affected and suffer the most,” the RPOC chief said.
He said that Bicol is fortunate to have a peaceful environ which is the desire of most LGUs and cities as the gains and progress they’re enjoying today is fruit of its continued and collective efforts to have and maintain a reliable peace and order.
“That is why, I would like to commend all our men in uniform and law enforcers for a job well done. Three days ago, Naga City was complaining about being tagged as having high incidence of crime. According to them this would hurt their image as well as affect their progress. I strongly agree, for peace and order is a precondition for progress and development,” Rosal said.
However, we are told that crimes are corollary to progress and development. The more development, the more opportunities for criminal elements, as such, we cannot afford to be complacent, he said.
Rosal said that the best response to rising criminality and lawlessness is vigilance. Vigilance among ordinary citizens and the government among all stakeholders particularly our first line of defense, the barantay constituents.
He said that organized crime is going with progress; hence they too are becoming sophisticated in their ways and means. This activated joint task force Bicolandia according to Rosal could be our potent weapon to counter whatever moves of criminal, terrorists and foreign groups intent to sow terror, fear, chaos and destabilization.
“Today, thanks to our various stakeholders, we feel secured and at ease plus the serenity of having a good sleep. Hopefully, with the joint task force activation, we will be able to sustain such tranquillity and assure visitors and tourists as well as investors that it is ideal to live, study, do business or just simply enjoy Bicolandia,” Rosal said.