Barangays tapped to fight terrorism
Quezon City (23 October) -- Saying terrorism has assumed a local character, the national government is tapping local governments, particularly the country's 41,000 barangays (villages), to lead in the fight against terrorism alongside the police and military.
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said peace and order councils down to the barangay level would be mobilized to help in the government's antiterrorism campaign by keeping an updated list of their communities' inhabitants and reporting anything suspicious.
"Terrorism has assumed a local character. We should all get involved in keeping our country safe from this global security threat," Puno said in a recent forum with local government executives of Mindanao.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said 37,534 of the country's 41,972 barangays have already created their own barangay peace and order committees (BPOC).
He urged Mindanao, which has long been suffering from the rebel secessionist movement and the communist insurgency, to draw up a unified plan to fight terrorism on the island.
Puno said that with terrorists becoming bolder in staging attacks in Mindanao, "governors and mayors of the island should now lead the fight against terrorism by becoming actively involved in ongoing efforts to mobilize the communities against this global scourge."
Three explosions that police blamed on the Southeast Asian regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front rocked Mindanao two weeks ago, killing six people and injuring two dozen in North Cotabato.
Mindanao has a total of 10,042 barangays, with 1,903 in the Zamboanga peninsula, 2,020 in Northern Mindanao, 1,158 in Davao, 1,194 in the Socksargen region, 1,308 in the Caraga region and 2,459 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Puno said Mindanao's local governments could tap their barangay "tanod" (watchmen) to be members of civilian volunteer organizations (CVO), groups of civilians that would be trained and deployed by the Philippine National Police as "force multipliers" in the campaign to wipe out the threats to security.
He said Executive Order No. 546, which makes the PNP a co-equal partner with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the anti-insurgency campaign, also authorizes the use of barangay leaders as force multipliers to strengthen the government fight against terrorism and other security threats.
"We can fight terrorism not only by reinforcing the operational and logistical capability of our police and military but also by preventing its occurrence through simple information-gathering and monitoring," the DILG chief said.
Puno, who also chairs the National Police Commission, also urged the local governments to include in their annual budgets funds for the operational and logistical support of police units and CVOs.
He said the BPOCs would help forge closer partnerships among the police, military and the local communities. (PIA) [top]