Philippine Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro leads the oath taking Thursday, November 5, 2009 of some 2,000 civilian volunteers who now formed part of the so-called Police Auxiliary Unit which is deployed in villages in the southern Sulu province to protect citizens from rebel attacks. The volunteers are under the supervision of Philippine National Police. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Jung Francisco and Jonathan Deles)
SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / November 6, 2009) – Some 2,000 civilian volunteers took their oath as members of a new police unit which will help Philippine authorities protect villages from rebel attacks.
Filipino Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro led the oath-taking Thursday in Sulu province where security forces are battling Moro rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror networks.
“We will not allow these groups from terrorizing innocent people and taking hostage this beautiful province of Sulu,” Teodoro said.
Sulu Governor Sakur Tan welcomed Teodoro who arrived by plane from Zamboanga City late Thursday afternoon together with senior military and police officials, and Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez.
Tan said the volunteers would be placed under the supervision of the Philippine National Police and the mayors of the town where they would be deployed as peace-keeping force.
He said the volunteers are now part of the Police Auxiliary Unit. “Civilians are fed with the atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf. Our people are suffering from their atrocities. These volunteers are now partners of the Philippine National Police in maintaining peace and order in Sulu. They will be under the supervision of the Philippine National Police,” Tan said.
Tan also praised the Defense chief, who is also the chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, for helping civilians displaced by the fighting in Sulu.
Clashes between security forces and rebels began in September and the military said dozens had been killed and wounded, including two US Special Forces members, in the fighting, which displaced thousands of civilians. (With reports from Nickee Butlangan, Jonathan deles and Jung Francisco)