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PIA Press Release

Stay-behind forces to help barangay defense system

by Romy Sabaldan

Davao City (5 August) -- Task Force (TF) Davao will focus on the community first without losing sight of its duties of strengthening the peace and security including combat duties of newly-deployed military units working with the so-called Barangay Defense System, TF Davao commander Col. Rainier Cruz said in an interview following an inter-agency regular flag raising ceremony Monday at their headquarters here.

Colonel Cruz made the assurance as TF Davao had officially sworn in community-based members of the Barangay Defense System which will be helped by what he called "stay-behind forces" to sustain the implementation of the program and foil both the violent and non-violent campaign of the New People's Army in Toril and its surrounding areas located some 30 to 50 kilometers from the city poblacion.

Cruz said working hand-in-hand with barangay residents is important in carrying out their mission to thwart any attempt by the NPA's to regain control of the far-flung barangays of Toril and the adjacent strategic areas going to Davao del Sur. He said similar strategies will also be applied in areas like Bunawan and Buhangin.

The Task Force Davao Commander also pointed out certain flaws in an all-military, all-combat approach of fighting a guerilla warfare saying that establishing rapport and support of barangay residents is important in fighting the insurgents.

A livelihood component of the program is already set in place including the strengthening of barangay cooperatives since most members of the Barangay Defense System are rebel returnees.

We will help the barangays attain peace and security and also establish support from the community first and then train our guns to the identified members and area of operations of the enemies, Cruz indicated.

The Barangay Defense System is part of the Integrated Area Community Public Safety Plan of the same model which had proven effective and successful in its early implementation in some areas of Luzon. (PIA XI) [top]

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