From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 30): W. Visayas created AFP-PNP joint task force for peace
A joint task force was created by the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for peace and security in Western Visayas following the recent incident in Maasin, Iloilo and as preparation amid terrorism threats.
This was announced by 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) commander Major General Jon Aying, in a media interview on Friday.
Aying stressed the four major areas of concern of the task force would be focused on insurgency, terrorism, illegal drugs and disasters.
“This will be the peace and security resiliency infrastructure that we are building from the regional level going down to the different provinces that will then cascade to the cities and municipalities down to the barangays, purok or sitios,” Aying said,
"The local government units together with the law enforcers will create these structures, come up with all those coordination, collaboration and integration of assets and capabilities so that we will be resilient and will be able to address all our peace and security concern like the continuing insurgency and terrorism and the now more centered problem which is the Mindanao-based -the ISIS-inspired violence extremism and terrorism and of course that will include how we address illegal drugs as well as work around problems on human-induced or natural disaster," he added.
Aying explained this mechanism would connect communities to their sitio leaders and other barangay officials, would go up to the region.
"We are trying to integrate all the military and PNP forces and other law enforces and how can we serve at the policy level and at the operational level the planning and coming up with resiliency projects from that level and how it will be implemented at the ground wherein the LGUs, community and law enforces will really unite," Aying said.
Acknowledging the vital role of the barangays, Aying said that the barangay captains and the barangay council would take the lead at the barangay level and would also form their own "barangay peace and security units" headed by the village chiefs, to be composed of the heads of families or the able-bodied.
Aying stressed the joint task force would have its task groups for communication from regional level going down to barangay and sitios.
He added that the civil society organizations and non-government organizations like Boracay Action Group which is a civilian organization, would also be enjoined in the joint task force.
In a presentation of Aying during the meeting of the Legue of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) in Iloilo province on Friday, Aying said the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz in Western Visayas remained to have problems with insurgency brought by the New People's Army (NPA).
Specifically, he said that around 150 fully armed rebels were present in Iloilo, Capiz and parts of Antique.
Aying also noted 13 NPA-initiated violent incidents that happened in Panay from April until this month of June. Among of its biggest incident is the raid of the Maasin town police station last June 18 staged by the rebels.
But despite this, Aying assured to bring closure to the communist insurgency-terrorism brought by the NPA, to insulate the province-region from Mindanao-based violent extremism and terrorism, have more illegal drug-free communities and to reduce the vulnerabilities of the populace to insurgency, terrorism and illegal drugs.
The 3rd Infantry Division is covering 10 provinces in the Visayas with a total population of 14.6 million. Aying said that six of these provinces were already declared as "Peaceful and ready for Further Development" (PRFD).