By Mike Crismundo
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – Field unit commanders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were ordered to use all available resources they have to end the decades-old communist insurgency in the country.
They were also ordered to sustain the gains and “not allow the communist insurgents to regroup.”
“Think forward and use all available resources, maximize the participation of community and all stakeholders,” Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto said during the recent change of command ceremony held at Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.
“Let us leave no breathing room for the enemy to regroup or regain foothold. Let us fight to win,” Alberto said during the turnover of command of the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID).
Lt. Gen. Alberto directed all the “Diamond” troopers to accord to the newly installed 4th ID commander, Brig. Gen. Franco Nemecia M. Gacal, who succeeded Maj. Gen. Ronald C. Villanueva, the same support as the previous commander in order to sustain the momentum in fighting communist insurgency.
The ceremony was highlighted by the traditional turnover of command and symbol from the commander, Maj. Gen. Villanueva who is set to retire from the military service to the incoming Brig. Gen. Gacal.
The 4th ID, the largest maneuvering Army division assigned in Mindanao, has been at the forefront of the AFP internal security operation in addressing security threats in northeastern and northern Mindanao regions which aims to attain a physically and psychologically secured environment conducive to socio-economic development.
Under the leadership of outgoing Maj. Gen. Villanueva, the 4th ID, during the past three years has neutralized 1,101 communist NPA terrorist (CNTs), seized or captured 966 firearms, cleared 264 barangays from CNTs has facilitated the declaration of Bukidnon as conflict manageable and ready for further development.
In another development, Maj. Gen. Felimon T. Santos, the new commanding general of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom) based in Davao Gulf, directed field unit commanders to work with the local officials for peace and development zones.
“Facilitate and work for convergence to address concerns to resolve issues in conflict-affected areas through peace and development zone concept,” Santos said as he appraised the operational environment of Caraga region during his visit to different military units in northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region last week.
“The joint and complementing effort of Regional Development Council (RDC) led by Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol F. Matugas and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) led by Agusan del Norte Gov. Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante-Matba declaring some areas in Caraga region as already Peace and Development Zones (PDZ) is good template that will facilitate the good achievements of peace in the region,” Maj. Gen. Santos told the Brigade and Battalion commanders in Caraga region.
The PDZ is a peace-building initiative which promotes the establishment of durable peace by addressing the root causes of conflict through reconciliation, peace constituency building, social, political, and economic transformation.
The program which has been pushed by then Maj. Gen. Benmjamin R. Madrigal, Jr., during his stint as commander of 4th ID, adopts the whole national approach and conflict sensitivity lens in tackling and addressing prevalent issues and conflict in the communities.