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PIA Press Release

RPOC nominates Surigao Sur governor as council chairman

by Noel B. Najarro

Butuan City (8 September) -- The Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) during its reorganizational meeting held yesterday at the conference room of the Police Regional Office 13 headquarters at Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez, Libertad, Butuan City, nominated unanimously Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel as its new chairman.

The meeting was attended by 18 top regional line agencies, PNP and AFP officials or their representatives, and was presided by DILG 13 Regional Director Rene Burdeos.

Pimentel replaces former Surigao del Sur governor (now Carascal town) Mayor Vicente Pimentel, Jr. In fact, it was him who nominated Gov. Pimentel to the said position which the council gave their unanimous approval.

The new chairman-nominee during his acceptance message conveyed his gratitude to the whole council for the total confidence to his leadership as expressed by their overall endorsement to his nomination. He said that he felt that the position of the council's chairmanship is but apt and appropriate to be given to somebody from Surigao del Sur, as it was shown during the regional peace and order situation briefing given by the Army and the PNP, most of the incidents affecting the peace and order situation of the region happened in his province. "Now, we can use this forum as one of the venues where we can reach a solution to the peace and order problem in Surigao del Sur."

Pimentel said that among his primary concerns at present is to address the problem of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Brgy. Mahaba, Marihatag town in his province. He assured the council that the provincial government, the local government unit, the leadership of the AFP, the PNP and other concerned agencies had cared well for the safety and welfare of the 232 families representing more than a thousand individuals now temporarily staying at Marihatag municipal gymnasium and the nearby barangay of San Isidro.

He said that the other day, the provincial government, LGU Marihatag, the Philippine Army represented by 36IB Commander Lt. Col. Rene Canete, some sectoral and IDP's representatives had discussed the processes and the possibilities of the evacuees' return to their barangay. There were three concerns, expressed by the IDP's representatives during the consultation as a sort of pre-requisite for their return. These will include no harassment from the military for the civilians, that the soldiers will refrain from staying at the civilian residences should they operate in the area and the total pull out of military troopers in the area at present.

Col. Augusto Tolentino, 401st Brigade PA commander assured the governor that all the evacuees' demands are feasible. In the first place, the army commander said the coming down of the evacuees was not caused by encounter between the army and the NPAs. There were reports even, that it was the NPAs who were harassing them and causing them to move out of their places. The second point, regarding the army occupation of some of the civilian residence, he told the council that it is their self operating procedure during military operations that soldiers will refrain from staying at civilian dwellings. The third point, which is the total pull out of their troops, Col. Tolentino said that as early as the last week of August, army troopers had already pulled out of the area. However, he said that the issue of total pull out and to refrain from entering a certain area will be dealt with in a case to case basis, as when an order is issued from their higher headquarters to operate in a certain area,( in fact this will done in any place and anywhere under their area of responsibility), they have no option but to follow these legal orders.

Pimentel said that he understand the side of the Philippine army as explained by Col. Tolentino. He assured the council that he will immediately meet again with the various representatives upon his return and start the soonest process for the evacuees return. (Butuan Star/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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