ZAMBOANGA CITY: Police and military authorities have signed an agreement that would pave the way for a joint anti-insurgency operation in the southern Philippines, officials said on Saturday.
The agreement was signed at the headquarters of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City between the Philippine Natio–nal Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz 3rd, chief of the Eastern Min–danao Command, and Chief Supt. Wendy del Rosario signed the Joint Standing Operating Procedure Number 1 or the Condition Situation Response System. Del Rosario represented Chief Supt. Angelito Pacia, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations.
“The JSOP prescribes certain minimum actions or responses pertaining to the counter-insurgency campaign by the PNP and AFP operating forces working under the Area Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center Eastern Mindanao within the territorial boundaries of Regions 10, 11, 12 and 13 in accordance with the established Condition Situation Response System,” Cruz said.
The signing ceremony was also attended by army com–manders from the 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions and re–presentatives from the AFP General Headquarters.
Cruz said the new system will further enhance the intero–perability operations between the police and military and effectively address communist rebels and other threats, including terrorism.
“The CPP and NPA, and other threat groups commit terror acts or atrocities not only against PNP and AFP, but civilian targets as well. In particular, NPA attacks are usually against those who refuse to give in to their extortion demands, like business com–panies involved in mining, transport, plantations and even against poor and low income individuals and families in the countryside and these have to stop immediately,” he said.
Del Rosario has admitted that the peace and order situation in Eastern Mindanao is greatly affected by the violent acts of the CPP and NPA, considered to be the most potent security threats.
“Their boldness in committing criminal violent acts against their chosen targets denotes that it remains a major security threat which poses a very serious challenge to the government in general and the AFP and PNP in particular,” he said.
Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, tagged the NPA as behind the spate of armed attacks on government installations, ambuscades, ha–rassment, abductions and even kidnapping and bombings and arson, murder and other acts of terror in Mindanao.
A similar accord is also being prepared for Western Mindanao between police and military authorities to address the growing threats pose by the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants who are behind kidnappings for ransom and terrorism.
Capt. Franco Suelto, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, and Insp. Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesperson, said police and military forces are closely coordinating efforts in law en–forcement and anti-insurgency operations and have been successful so far in their security campaign.
Just recently, a joint police and military operation led to the capture of a senior NPA leader, Mercy Maghinay, in Zamboanga del Norte’s Siayan town following a clash with rebels.
Brig. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, Jr, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said Maghinay heads the NPA forces in the province and was behind the spate of attacks on military and police targets. He said security forces recovered a shot gun, a .45-caliber pistol, a hand grenade and some P100,000 in cash from Maghinay.
A Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center was also created to craft and implement plans for intensified security operations against lawless and criminal elements, private armed and other threat groups in support of the local governments; assume functions during elections; monitor and assess peace and security situations; coordinate the implementation of necessary measures to ensure peace and security in their area of responsibility; conduct intensified law-enforcement; initiate and coordinate trainings and exercises; conduct information dissemi–nation of timely and relevant information and enhance aware–ness program.
“Police and military efforts in maintaining peace and order, and the close coordination with the local government units in protecting the civilians, are working perfectly well with the support of course of various sectors of the society, the community and the public,” Suelto said.