Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Army's Best Battalion Is Back In Basilan Province

BASILAN, Philippines – With the concept of introducing 80% Civil-Military Operation and only 20% Combat Operation in its campaign plan in the southern island of Basilan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines brought back one of the Army’s best CMO Battalion, the 32nd Infantry Battalion under the First Infantry Division.

The unit which came from Lanao Del Norte province under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jones Agustin arrived recently at the port of Lamitan and was subsequently redeployed in the town of Maluso.

It can be recalled that the 32nd Infantry Battalion was assigned in Basilan from 1999 to 2007 and later deployed in various municipalities of the province. For almost eight years in the area, the said unit was one of those that contributed so much in transforming Basilan from a war zone to a peaceful zone for socio economic development during their stint in the area.

Before they battalion was sent to Basilan, Major General Romeo Lustestica, commander of the First Infantry Division, praised the soldiers for their successful campaign against rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other threat groups in Lanao del Norte and told them that they must display the same commitment and dedication in their new area of responsibility.

He stressed that the AFP’s priority for Basilan province is not necessarily to conduct a series of combat operations, but to assist the government in the establishment of a peaceful community conducive for socio–economic development.

On the other hand, the battalion commander upon their arrival in Basilan said that the locals could expect his unit to give the same effort it has exerted before for the establishment of peace throughout the province.

Just recently, the 32nd Infantry Battalion conducted the first ever Interfaith Symposium to 147 graduating high school students of Claret High School in Maluso town. It also showed a film documentary entitled “Healing the past, building the future.”

Agustin said the peace initiative was aimed at educating the youth of Basilan on how to eradicate prejudices and mistrust and foster friendship and camaraderie among the students.

He said his battalion also launched a children’s feeding program that benefited dozens of poor Samal children at Sitio Kalye Basa in the town’s Townsite village.

The activity, Agustin said, would be regularly conducted every Saturday targeting the hapless and indigent children in remote areas in the province.
“The activity included the distribution of arroz caldo or porridge and fruit juice, followed by the distribution of multi-vitamins syrup to the children,” he said.

“This endeavor is part of the AFP’s expanded role in the community which includes development oriented activities in support of the program of the national government,” Agustin added, adding the effort was also supported by the Philippine Marines in Basilan.

He stressed that the efforts were made to appeal to the people to support the government’s call for peace and unity and to show that the AFP will always adhere and observe peaceful means in resolving internal security problems.

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