By Francis Wakefield
Romblon is the second province, after Cavite, in Southern Luzon to be declared insurgency-free and with stable internal peace and security, the military said Friday.
The declaration came with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Stable Internal Peace and Security of the Province of Romblon held in the Convention Center Rizal, Odiongan, Romblon on February 21, 2019.
Signatories include Honorable Eduardo C. Firmalo, Governor of Romblon Province, and Major General Rhoderick M Parayno, the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division Commander.
Maj. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Southern Luzon Command (SoLCom) chief, expressed his gratitude to the local chief executives — from the governor to the barangay captains — for spearheading preservation of peace in Romblon. He also expressed his gratitude for the full support and cooperation of the residents of Romblon province.
Maj.Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, the Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Katagalugan, said that “this is another milestone towards the continuous growth and development of Romblon”.
The declaration of Stable Internal Peace and Security / Unaffected Province means that the CPP/NPA/NDF (CNN) politico-military organizations in the province no longer pose a threat to peace and order; that actual and potential CNN systems have collapsed; and its recovery efforts in former affected areas and sectoral organizations have been prevented. The provincial government will now focus more on the development of the province.
The SIPS is the highest security status wherein the provinces are categorized as cleared, unaffected and are relatively peaceful. The Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) acknowledges and accepts that only Law Enforcement Operations (LEOs) are needed in the province and will signify that the province is already normalized.
Attendees included Secretary Dennis Hernandez, Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog; Gen. Gapay, Director Ericson Velasquez, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations of Southern Luzon; Police Chief Superintendent Tomas C. Apolinario Jr, Regional Director, Police Regional Office MIMAROPA; and Honorable Trina Alejandra Q Firmalo-Fabic, Municipal Mayor, Odiongan, Romblon.
Colonel Marceliano V. Teofilo, Commander of the 203rd Brigade who has operational jurisdiction over the area, also assured the provincial government that his Brigade will continue to support and monitor the peace progress in Romblon although it was already declared as rebel-unaffected.
“Peace is everyone’s responsibility and Romblon is a worthy example of this,” Gapay.said.
Gapay, along with the other speakers, emphasized that as long as all sectors work together, any province can achieve peace just like Romblon.