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PIA Press Release

New Mindanao paradigm noted by world - PGMA

by RG Alama

Davao City (11 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that the new paradigm in fighting terrorism in Mindanao particularly in Basilan and Jolo is being noted by the country's allies particularly the United States.

According to President Arroyo the new paradigm involves the use of soft and hard power in countering terrorism, unlike the old strategy of being a purely military approach.

During a "two-on-one" media forum held at the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name Prayer Mountain in Tamayong Calinan, this city, in which the President graced the Christian denomination's 22nd founding anniversary. President Arroyo said that United States President George W. Bush took special note and praised the new approach.

"During a breakfast meeting with leaders of the five APEC (Asean Pacific Economic Cooperation) countries during the summit, the first thing that he talked about was the success of our paradigm in Mindanao." President Arroyo said.

The new paradigm includes a military offensive conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of which the President praised the fighting skills and the gallantry of those who took part in the operations against the terrorist group in Basilan and Jolo

Parallel to the military approach is a humanitarian and infrastructure program, which the President termed as soft power. "In this way we can win the hearts of the community." The commander-in-chief said.

Aside from battle-hardened infantry troops, engineering battalions are now in Basilan finishing the 80-kilometer Basilan circumferential road which aims to benefit residents in the island where fierce engagements against the Marines and the abu sayaff have occurred.

President Arroyo also noted the mutual security arrangement in which MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) forces have agreed not to meddle in the fighting and redeployed their forces to avoid being caught in the ongoing offensive.

The President said that it is through this arrangement that there were no noted civilian casualties in the conflict.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived early morning in Davao City fresh from the 21st APEC Leader's summit in Sydney Australia, the summit saw the leaders of the 21 member countries tackling a wide range of issues ranging from regional trade integration, security cooperation and climate change. (PIA XI) [top]

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