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PIA Press Release

Comval, second national priority in terms of security

by Prix D Banzon

Davao City (14 September) -- Compostela Valley Province, named as the second national priority of the country is accorded with top security because of its significant contribution to the national coffers.

Col. Benito Antonio de Leon, chief of staff of 101st Division of the Philippine Army said they have instructions from higher authorities to intensify the security in the area.

He said the province is host to several plantations and mining areas as well as communication and power facilities.

"We need to protect what we have in our basket (referring to vast resources)," he said.

The area within first national priority is Southern Luzon because of its proximity to the seat of government in Malacanang.

He said they need to secure the area against lawless elements.

That is the reason why the Eastern Mindanao Command was established here to attend to the security in the area, he said.

De Leon admitted that several companies sought their assistance because they had been receiving letters from extortion group extorting amounts ranging from P1M to P2M.

He refused to identify the companies as well as the number that were given extortion letters.

In an earlier report, it was noted that the continued presence of the members of the New People's Army in the mining areas have jeopardized the operations of mining companies.

Engr. Edilberto Arreza of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the region said communist rebels relied much on mining areas for funding sources.

Mining companies admitted to a government team about the extortion activities of the rebels who victimized some of them.

De Leon said the reason why the Eastern Mindanao Command was established here is to attend to the security in the area. (PIA XI) [top]

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