Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said
the city of Escalante is now moving towards becoming an insurgency-free area in Negros Occidental, with the support of Mayor Melecio Yap in the peace and development activities of the Philippine Army units in the area. Mabanta said Yap supported the three-month retraining of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, that ended yesterday, by allowing them to use about 40-hectares of government property in Brgy. Langub, Escalante City.
"Pure military solution is just a small part of our overall effort to address the security concerns of the country. Just like in Bohol, success is hinged on the commitment of heads of LGU's and all stakeholders as much as on military operations", Mabanta said.
Usually, the retraining of an infantry unit of the 3ID is done at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.
Mabanta, however, said the clamor by the people of Escalante headed by Yap to retain the 62IB became a deciding factor for him not to pull out the infantry unit.
"This may be the first time that the retraining of an infantry battalion was conducted in an area where security is a challenge. We cannot do it without the support of concerned local government unit” Lt. Col. Efren Morados, 62nd IB commander, said.
Mabanta said the support of the Escalante local government unit will definitely contribute to the overall effort of the provincial government of Negros Occidental in its' five-year peace and development project for communities affected by armed conflict.
Members of the 62IB were given refresher courses on new tactics, techniques and procedures on combat operations, intelligence and civil-military operations, in line with the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan”.
Meanwhile, the four-day run-bike-motorcycle peace torch relay, in observance of Peace Consciousness Month, kicked off yesterday in Negros Occidental, and will end Sept. 21.
Maj. Antonio Tumnog, 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalion chief, said the peace torch relay, called “Balhas Para sa Katawhayan” will be split into two starting and finish lines, from San Carlos City to Bacolod City in the north, and from Hinobaan to Bacolod in the south.
Tumnog said peace rallies and prayers will be held in Toboso, Cauayan, Sagay, Kabankalan City, Victorias City, Silay City, Pontevedra and Bago City, which will end Sept. 21 at the Capitol Lagoon in Bacolod City.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, is encouraging government troops to attend the four-day event, as part of their campaign in winning the peace in Negros Occidental.*GPB