By Mike Baños
THE largest unit of the Philippine Army is now busy laying the groundworks for its mandated mission in its designated areas of responsibility.
The 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division was originally tasked to conduct internal security operations to dismantle four priority fronts and degrade another three (3) priority areas of the New People’s Army in the Caraga region and portions of Region 10.
According to Major Invinzor O. Meneses, Executive Officer of the 65th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, the 4th ID now covers Misor, Bukidnon and Camiguin where it is focused on the Community Support Program of its battalions immersed in the interior barangays of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, coordinating with LGUs and NGAs, and setting the tone for planned peace talks under a bilateral ceasefire planned for June 28.
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief consultant Jose Maria Sison earlier indicated the group was willing to sign an interim peace agreement this month following back channel talks in Europe between representatives of the government and communist rebels which led Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to declare last April 5 that the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), have 60 days to resume the talks.
“We have yet to receive orders from our headquarters, but a unilateral ceasefire would pave the way for the bilateral talks,” Meneses said during a security briefing for participants in the 1st Quarter Quarterly Regional Economic Situationer round table discussion held June 5 at the NEDA-10 conference room. “Troops will be on defensive mode with no operations from present positions and monitoring teams from other countries will be present to observe the conduct of the talks.”
So far, the official said there have been no conflicts reported or observed in the 4th ID area for the past five months except for some minor disturbances. “We are now briefing security officers of companies present in Bukidnon and Misor to discuss status of security in the province. Our units stationed in Lanao del Sur are also focused on monitoring remnants of ISIS-inspired terrorists”
Meneses said they are validating reports on the reported presence of threat groups in various areas of Region 10 but sees no threat at present from ISIS-inspired terrorists.
However, Allan Campos, assistant regional director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in Region 10 said in the same forum that Northern Mindanao remains under Terror Level 3, (High Alert) since the remnants of ISIS-inspired local terrorists Maute Group scattered in Lanao del Sur have planned atrocities in key cities like Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Marawi.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) adopted a 3-level security advisory system in 2013 which collates intelligence, target-hardening or increasing security at vital installations and establishments, and incident management.
The PNP said the public should remain calm even during a Terror Level 3 since it is merely a preventive measure against likely attacks by threat groups in a designated area.
The 2013 Revised PNP Operational Procedures manual provides that during bombing attacks and explosions perpetrated by terrorists, the Inter-Agency Protocol on Explosives and Related Incidents investigation among the PNP, military, National Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine Coast Guard shall be strictly implemented.
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