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PNP-SAF brings R-PSB skills to MILF areas

September 6, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 606 views

PNP-SAFIN full support to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr.’s effort to help bring peace in many conflict areas in the Southern Philippines, the PNP Special Action Force wants to bring its Revitalized-Pulis sa Barangay (R-PSB) program to Moro Islamic Liberation Front areas in Western Mindanao to ensure there will be government presence that will help address the needs of the populace and most of all, counter violent extremism ideas, the Journal Group learned.

PNP-SAF director, Brigadier Gen. Edgar Alan O. Okubo said that during a talk with Basilan Governor Hajiman Hataman-Salliman, they had a comprehensive discussion of the peace process as well as their plan to introduce the R-PSB program in the island-province that could help attain the vision of the provincial government to have a robust Basilan.

The member of PNP Academy Class 1992 last Friday completed his three-day command visit to SAF units stationed in Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. In Sulu, he also welcomed seven hardcore Abu Sayyaf members who have surrendered to the government.

Okubo added that he discussed with Gov. Hataman-Salliman the need to fully study the complex issue of disarming the MILF since it is a fact that members of the MILF lived with firearms for decades.

“During the decommissioning, they only surrendered World War 2 types of firearms,” he said. However, it is known that MILF members are equipped with modern automatic rifles and other high-powered weapons. Thus, Brig. Gen. Okubo said the ‘complexity to disarm the MILF should be well studied and not be applied by the book.”

The official said they also discussed the need for the government to ‘civilianize the MILF Base Camps by exploring livelihoods, economic opportunities and education for their children.’ It is in this light that the R-PSB program of the police force will come.

Both also agreed that the PNP and the Armed Forces which are representing the government need to reassess the continuing way to present their accomplishments by coming up with the number of enemy neutralized and weapons seized.

He said that he and the governor agreed that the accomplishments should instead be measured by how many sitios and barangays were cleared from influence of secessionist and extremism.

Both agreed that radicalism is not a group but an individual state of mind. “Once a person accepts the ideology of a 2nd life and hate to Christians and fellow Muslims, he or she is ripe to be a suicide bomber,” the two asserted.

Lastly, the two agreed that the integration of qualified MILF members into the PNP should be handled with special training and not by regular training with the end-objective that their state of mind should be for service and loyalty to the government.

Okubo earlier committed to fully support the planned nationwide implementation of the successful R-PSB concept in Southern Mindanao which has been credited to be a major factor in the collapse and defeat of the New People’s Army insurgency in the region.

The official particularly committed to deploy two companies from every SAF battalion to fully implement the R-PSB program in their areas of assignment.

The PNP-SAF director also reported to Gen. Azurin that he will likewise create and train one SAF Intelligence Battalion that will cater to the intelligence requirement of their regular battalions to further enhance their missions and operational accomplishments.

The PNP-SAF has 14 regular battalions complemented by a Rapid Deployment Battalion and a Fore Support Battalion.

Last August 11, National Security Adviser Clarita R. Carlos and Department of National Defense officer-in-charge, Senior Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. were given a briefing by Okubo relative to the R-PSB concept at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.

After the briefing, Sec. Carlos said she wanted the R-PSB program to be replicated in the whole archipelago as she also called on the PNP leadership headed by Gen. Azurin to be prepared to present their R-PSB program to President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr.

Sec. Carlos in particular lauded the concept of the R-PSB to provide government service to people leaving in so-called Geographically Isolated and Disadvantageous Areas or GIDAS knowing well that their conditions are being taken advantage of by the NPA to recruit more members and supporters.

The NSA adviser expressed belief that in order to defeat insurgency, ‘those in the margin should be moved in the center’ in reference to effort by the government to reach the marginalized sectors.

Gen. Azurin said they are aspiring for lasting peace under their “Kapayapaan Program.”

The PNP chief said that in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and various clusters of Executive Order No. 70 NTF ELCAC – or the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict, the PNP shall continue this endeavor with more vigor and enthusiasm and shall ensure that all Barangay Development Programs shall reach its completion, by providing security to its implementers.

Since 2019, around 17,000 indigenous people and other poor folks living in so-called GIDAS in Southern Mindanao are now qualified to avail of different government services, thanks to the birth certificates they have finally acquired thru the help of the R-PSB program of the PRO11.

Okubo, a former PRO11 Deputy Regional Director for Administration supervised the activities of the PRO11 R-PSB which was activated to provide basic government service to poor tribesmen in the region and keep them away from the recruitment activities of the New People’s Army.

The PRO11 R-PSB since 2019 has enjoyed the full support of local residents as its personnel have helped construct roads, school buildings, artesian projects and water system for local tribesmen and other poor folks in the region apart from helping bring primary education to young villagers.

The R-PSB personnel also facilitated the mass wedding of dozens of local tribesmen who were previously vulnerable to NPA recruitment, their areas formerly known as ‘insurgent mass base’ since the local folks have difficulty in obtaining basic documents such as birth and marriage certificates.

Without these documents, the tribesmen cannot acquire a driver’s license or simply enroll their children to government schools due to lack of records that will establish their identities.

“This problem had been taken advantage of by the CPP/NPA for so many years. Due to lack of education and the absence of government in GIDAS barangays, the poor villagers are really susceptible for NPA recruitment,” said Okubo.

“In short, the R-PSB personnel have become the true representative of the government in those GIDAS areas. They are there to assist the poor communities,” he added.

Since its activation, the R-PSB has not only facilitated the birth registration of the Ips but have also helped build roads, artesian wells and other potable water distribution system and schools where they teach young tribesmen basic primary education with the assistance of different government agencies and local government units.

The R-PSB program of former PRO11 director, Maj. Gen. Filmore B. Escobal was continued by Brig. Gen. Benjamin H. Silo Jr. when the latter was designated as Escobal’s successor.

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