By Leandria Pagunsan
NEGROS ORIENTAL (PIA)– The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental readies election security plan in the Negros Island region (NIR).
79th Infantry Batallion 1Lt. Ronnie Sarmiento reported that the brigade is tasked to perform election-related duties and security operations in support to Commission on Election (COMELEC) in Negros Island Region (NIR).
In a recent Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting, Sarmiento said the 303rd Infantry Brigade is the only army brigade that will oversee and operate in the whole island covering the 79th Infantry Battalion in Palanas, Tanjay City and 11th battalion in Guihulngan formerly under the 302nd brigade which was moved to Bohol on November 15, 2015.
Relative to this, the organized tactical unit (TU) 303 conducts security operations in Negros Island Region to support and assist the COMELEC in the implementation of election laws, rules and regulations to ensure a free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible conduct of the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.
Sarmiento added that the activated Joint Security Coordinating Centers (JSCC) at different levels have contributed in maintaining a peaceful environment so far.
However, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front (NDF) are potent threat to conduct possible election related violent incidents, said Sarmiento.
In a related development, the Conflict Manageable Development Ready (CMDR) status of Negros Oriental and the Peaceful and Ready for Further Development (PRFD) status of Negros Occidental have been sustained through the concerted peace and development efforts of the different stakeholders.
In his report, Sarmiento revealed that the brigade has gained significant progress not only in clearing affected barangays through bayanihan activities but also in sustaining the gains in unaffected barangays through re-visitation and immersion.
The brigade was able to neutralize 30 CPP, NPA, NDF (CNN) personnel and recovered 14 firearms. However, Sarmiento reported that there is still a need to increase the number of neutralized CNN personalities as well as recovery of their firearms.
With the shared responsibility of achieving peace and development, a normalized Negros Island Region can be attained through the continuous support of local government units and cooperation among other government agencies, non government organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and the different sectors of society, Sarmiento said. (mbcn/lpp/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was published at PIA website on Mar. 11, 2016)