From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 11): Military exercises held in Sipalay
Foreign and domestic tourists need not worry about the peace and order at tourist destinations in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, and in neighboring areas, but Commodore Loumer Bernabe, commander of the Naval Forces Central,said yesterday that they are not taking chances.
"We always consider that there is a threat, that is why we are doing our best to reach out to the coastal towns, especially those fronting Mindanao," Bernabe said.
Mayor Oscar Montilla yesterday said that the peace and order in Sipalay City, which is known for its diving sites and white sand beaches, remains stable, noting an increasing number of foreign and domestic tourists, especially during weekends.
While we discount any threat as of now, Bernabe, who supervises all Philippine Navy units and assets in the Visayas, said that they are establishing linkages with local government units and communities to monitor the entry of individuals, who do not speak in their native dialect, especially those coming from Mindanao.
He cited the vigilance of a community in Bohol, where the populace immediately reported the presence of an armed group that turned out to be Abu Sayyaf bandits, who were trying to expand their kidnapping operations in the island.
Stressing the need to secure the tourist destinations of Sipalay City and its neighboring areas, Bernabe said, "We want to show to our foreign tourists that they can go there, and they are safe".
The Central Command (CENTCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, through the Naval Forces Central of the Philippine Navy, yesterday held an amphibious raid exercise where it simulated a military operation launched from the sea by an amphibious force, that was participated in by the Naval Reserve Center of Western and Eastern Visayas.
Brig. Gen. Arthur Biyu, commander of the Naval Reserve Command, said that the conduct of such military exercise aims to capacitate and develop the reserve force, in order to reach the level of seamless integration into the regular forces.
Biyu added that the military exercise is in support of the CENCOM campaign plan "Abante Visayas" that will focus its operations on Negros and Samar islands, in line also with the AFP simultaneous intensified internal security operations in the Visayas region.
From disaster response and related activities, Biyu said they are now in the process of transforming Naval reservists to be active in naval defense and maritime security operations.
The amphibious raid exercise capability demonstration at the coastal area of Sipalay City, was executed by the landing force from 8th Marine Brigade (Reserve) of Naval Reserve Center - Western Visayas (NRCWV) aboard the Landing Craft BRP AGTA) of the Philippine Navy, composed of 130 personnel.
They performed simultaneously disembarkation procedures and squad maneuvers, such as rescuing civilian hostages during hostage crisis scenarios, while a SEAL Team conducted the beach head clearing, before the landing of Marine reservists.
The PNP Special Weapons and Tactics, fire fighting and medical teams also joined the military exercise.
Montilla stressed the importance of such military exercises in Sipalay City, as part of their security preparations, for any eventuality.
Before the military exercises, the Naval Forces Central also initiated a medical mission in Sipalay City, benefitting more than 700 residents from it, a coastal clean-up, and mangrove planting activities.
Aside from the security aspect, Montilla added that they are also ensuring that owners of beach resorts are strictly complying with the rules and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, especially regarding their sewerage system.