Feature: Redefining the soldiery: The humanitarian offensives in Basilan
Isabela City, Basilan (9 October) -- They are armed not with guns, but with sincerity and steadfastness to build broken homes, repair or build schools, and deliver basic services to strengthen the foundation of peace and provide expanded economic opportunities to the people they serve. These are our soldiers in Basilan.
In partnership with the local government units, ties with non-government organizations, and in steady interface with the populace, the soldiers in Basilan significantly and exemplarily carried out their mandated tasks, changing the pigeonholed picture of soldiery…Soldiery need not always be a picture of one with hard-faced, carrying weapons, and exchanging fires with the enemies in the combat zone. Our soldiers in Basilan are still in combat though, but in a different arena and they are waging war against poverty, illiteracy, violence, and criminality.
Just a month ago, the two engineering battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines arrived at Lamitan City, Basilan to implement the development program, which aims to rebuild and rehabilitate the infrastructure on the island province. The deployment of engineering troops is the military's contribution in realizing the humanitarian offensive operations as directed by the Commander-in-Chief herself, Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
As National Defense Secretary Gilberto C Teodoro Jr said that the grounds for the economic development for Basilan have been laid to improve and uplift the lives of the people in this conflict-affected province.
Hence, the 3rd Naval Construction Battalion and the 355th Engineering Battalion of the Philippine Air Force are currently helping and assisting the Department of Public Works and Highways in the construction of circumferential road and water supply systems in Basilan.
On the other hand, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 stationed in Brgy Tumahubong, Sumisip, Basilan has also implemented several projects, such as: repair and painting of mosque, repair of Sapah Bulak Elementary School, drafting Municipal joint resolution regarding MILF/ASG Free Sumisip, Clan War Peace Settlement efforts, and construction of Tumahubong Social Hall.
Moreover, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7, together with Seabees Engineers conducted crowning and ditching of farm to market road at Brgy Colonia, Lamitan City on 20 Sept 07. Likewise, this unit embarked on joint coastal clean – up drive at Calugusan beach, Lamitan City last 24 Sept 07.
The Marine Battalion Landing Team – 6 stationed in Brgy Cabunbata, conducted a blood letting activity, with a theme: "Dugo Ko, Alay sa Kapwa Pilipino", held at its headquarters on 14 Sept 2007. Around 28, 800 cc. of blood were donated by 64 donors. Aside from the members of the Philippine Marine Corps, members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary composed the donors' list. The said activity is a reflection of the military's sincere commitment to help save lives, not only of our soldiers, but more importantly of the civilians.
Last 22 Sept 2007, a sum of 396 beneficiaries enjoyed the free medical services during the Medical, Optical, and Circumcision Outreach Program jointly conducted by the Philippine Marines, and ABS-CBN's Kapamilya Foundation at Amaloy, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan. The residents availed the free medical services, optical consultation, medicines, and other related services. Some 340 individuals benefited from medical consultation with free medicines, 43 on eye consultation, with free reading glasses, and 13 on circumcision.
BGen Juancho M Sabban, JTF Thunder Commander reiterated that the activity has developmental and sociological purposes, stressing the importance of the military's participation in the civilian-oriented activities, which in effect, promotes cooperation and collaboration between the military and civilians.
While the CMO units of the battalions are engrossed with the aforementioned ventures, the Civil Relations Unit-Basilan, 4th CRG, CRSAFP is also intensifying its conduct of information drive on Threats To National Security, Anti-Terrorism, and Ill Effects of Prohibited Drugs, purposely to create public awareness, raise the level of preparedness, guide actions, and amalgamate the people in the fight against menaces to peace and development. As of 03 Oct 2007, the Unit has able to conduct 33 symposia in 48 barangays in Isabela City, Lamitan City, and Maluso in just two months time.
No doubt, soldiers deployed in Basilan are not only the forefront of peace efforts, but also, the vanguard in the developmental undertakings. Their presence provides every peace-loving Basileño a cloak of safety and a nightmare to lawless elements.
With this, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Basilan approved a resolution commending the Joint Task Force Thunder, for its dynamic participation in implementing the government's development program during the SP session held on 10 Sept 2007 at the Provincial Capitol, Isabela City, Basilan.
District 1 Board Member Misty Tupay, the proponent of the said resolution recognized the strong leadership of BGen. Juancho M Sabban AFP, Commander of TF Thunder: highlighting the remarkable roles of the military, not only on security concerns, more so, on the economic aspects of the island province.
"It is only but apt to extol the courage of these people-in-uniform in helping us bring development in Basilan, not through combat operations, but through humanitarian activities," Hon. Tupay stressed.
On this premise, District 1 Board Member Nasser Salain suggested that the resolution will be furnished to the Office of the President, Chief of Staff, and Western Mindanao Command.
"This resolution serves as a reflection of our warm acceptance and deepest appreciation to the perpetual efforts of the military in pursuing peace and order through boosting economic development in Basilan," Hon. Salain said. (4CRG-AFP/PIA-BASULTA) [top]