ILOILO – The 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and Police Regional Office jointly declared the Province of Iloilo as “Peaceful and Ready for Further Development” in a ceremony held in Amigo Terrace Hotel, Iloilo City, today.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang, represented by Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. John Bonafos, and Police Regional Director Josephus Angan affirmed the declaration during the first quarter meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council where Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. acts as chairman and presiding officer.
The three also signed a commitment to work together to preserve the peace and security in the province. “This declaration manifests that the province is a safe place to live in. It is also an assurance that the environment in Iloilo is conducive for business and tourism,” Defensor said.
The governor, however, clarified that the declaration does not mean that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN) has been totally eradicated in province. “There are still around 125 CNNs accounted in the province but these rebels no longer pose grave threat to our security,” he stressed.
According to a report from 3rd ID Commander Major Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, these rebels can be found in 37 hinter and far-flung villages of Miagao, Igbaras, Tubungan, Leon, Calinog, Lambunao, Bingawan and Janiuay.
Last year, Guerrero said they neutralized a total of 52 CNN regulars wherein 11 are in Iloilo. Of the number, 28 surrendered, 13 captured and five were killed during the operation.
The sustained civil military operations or bayanihan team activities resulted in surrenders and aggressive military operations to more neutralization, he added.
On the other hand, Angan said that the declaration is a testament that Iloilo is moving forward in its quest to attain a meaningful and lasting peace.
He also emphasized that the organizing committee of the APEC will not choose the city and province of Iloilo as host for its two ministerial meetings.
APEC’s Small and Medium Enterprise Meeting will be held in Iloilo on September 21 t0 25 and the High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy on September 28 to October 6.