Año commends 6th Division for domestic war on terror initiatives
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Malacañang’s current Mindanao peace initiative is aimed at putting closure to the nagging now 50-year southern Moro issue that have spanned through the terms of five Philippine presidents.
Año on Tuesday presided over a dialogue with officials of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, led by Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, in Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in the first district of Maguindanao.
Año had expressed gratitude to military units in the province for containing attempts by local Islamic State-inspired blocs to reinforce the Maute terror group in Marawi City that government forces are trying to neutralize.
Also present in the meeting were representatives from Army mechanized units in the second district of Maguindanao and the Philippine Navy’s 1st Marine Brigade based in seaside Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat, whose security missions are under 6th ID’s tactical control.
Año said the 6th ID’s markedly noticeable security operation in central Mindanao's neighboring Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces is preventing a spillover to the region of the raging strife in Marawi City.
“With these effective security operations, you have prevented the spillover of activities of terrorists in your AOR (area of responsibility). That is something laudable,” Año said in the presence of reporters.
He also appreciated the 6th ID’s current diplomatic overtures meant to foster camaraderie among central Mindanao’s Muslim, Christian and Lumad sectors and members of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Both fronts have separate peace pacts with Malacañang enjoining them to help maintain law and order in conflict flashpoint areas in the country’s south.
The 6th ID and the MILF are presently cooperating in crushing a Maguindanao-based militant group led by Esmael Abdulmalik which uses the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as its revolutionary banner.
The 6th ID’s humanitarian and peace-building activities are joint initiatives of Dela Vega and his subordinates, Lt. Col, Markton Abo, Lt. Col. Gerry Besana and Captain Arvin Encinas.
Abo, an ethnic Maguindanaon, is 6th ID’s civil-military relations officer while Encinas is the division’s public affairs chief. Besana is the commanding officer of the 6th Civil Military Operations Battalion, whose humanitarian activities are being supervised by Dela Vega. Besana’s unit is also involved in activities benefiting evacuees from Marawi City.
Dela Vega had told Año the security thrusts of 6th ID would not gain headway if not for the help of local government units in provinces and cities under its jurisdiction.
“We ought to thank the provincial governors, the mayors, the congressional representatives, the barangay captains and all volunteer groups and peace-building organizations helping us,” Dela Vega said.
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