Invigorated by Pope’s visit, SOLCOM continues campaign for peace

2:49:00 PM
CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, Lucena City – After the successful security operations in Southern Tagalog and Bicol Regions during the Papal visit last January 15-19, the Southern Luzon Command is invigorated in pursuing its campaign for peace in the region.

SOLCOM’s Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) efforts in 2014 had stalled the growth of the Communist Party and the NPA in the region. In fact, there was a continuous decrease in the number of NPAs, firearms and number of influenced or affected barangays.

With this, SOLCOM intends to accelerate the pace this year.
“What we accomplished last year would form part of our campaign planning for 2015,” said Southern Luzon Command Chief Major General Ricardo R Visaya. As such, he said that SOLCOM will intensify its combat operations and massive Civil-Military Operations this year.

IPSO 2014 in review

Last year’s campaign plan yielded positive results for SOLCOM.

Combat operations resulted in the neutralization of 124 (12 killed, 33 captured, 79 surrendered) regular members of the Communist Party and the NPA. Among these, 18 were high ranking. It also prevented the recruitment for their armed component.Civil-military operations efforts of our Bayanihan Teams led to the clearing of 40 barangays from enemy influence and affectation.

“Our focused military operations in 2014 gained headway in diminishing mass-based support on the Communist Party and the NPA,” said Major General Visaya.

Our community-based peace and development efforts in partnership with various stakeholders effectively complemented our focused military operations. Most of the Bayanihan projects were integral part in the conduct of Peace and Development Operations in the brgys.

A total of 9, 443 various projects and activities with stakeholders were conducted such as community services – 4,332; medical assistance – 259; landscaping para sa kalikasan at kaunlaran – 1,382; cleanliness and beautification 2, 116; feeding programs – 114; sports festivities – 352; visits to camp facilities – 14; religious activities – 726; free haircut – 106 and activities with reservists – 42.
The campaign was able to help establish the conditions for the creation of an environment conducive for sustainable economic development.

Through peace efforts, business firms, vital installations and major projects shielded from enemy depredations. There was also no record of enemy major sabotage activities that might bear impact on the economic environment. There was also sustained peace and harmony in the industrial zones of CALABARZON. Likewise, there were improvements in rural productivity and vibrant rural economy based on government records and booming local tourism as evidenced by the continued development of large theme parks and high-end tourist destinations.

On November 25, 2014, the island Province of Catanduanes was declared Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development.

In Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), SOLCOM as the lead Search, Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) component of the AFP in Southern Luzon had effectively responded to the different types of disasters in the AOR.

Operating through the two (2) infantry divisions, naval and air force components, the command had significantly integrated these units in collaboration with other stakeholders to help mitigate the effects of disasters by saving lives, facilitating the evacuation to safer grounds through transportation assistance, providing communication and information assistance and other essential support before, during and after any disaster.

In times of calamities, our disaster tasked units have been in the forefront conducting various disaster response and relief operations. Though heavily affected, SOLCOM forces were involved in HADR-related activities when Typhoon Glenda ravaged the AOR on 15 July 2014 and typhoon Ruby on 7-9 December 2014. The command also conducted month-long HADR operations during the forced evacuation in preparation for the eruption of Mayon Volcano sometime in September 2014.

Good start for 2015

Successfully hurdling the security challenges during Pope Francis’ visit was a good start for SOLCOM. Roads leading to Manila and Samar were properly secured from possible spoilers. Motorists assistance centers were also established for pilgrims and devotees as well as other travelers who wanted to have a glimpse of the Pope.

Around 400 soldiers were sent to Tacloban City on Jan 13 to augment security requirements there. They arrived on January 18 and have now returned to their respective areas of operations.

It was followed by the quick deployment of forces for HADR during Typhoon “Amang” that helped PDRRMCs in the evacuation of families in flood and landslide prone areas especially in the Bicol Region.

On Wednesday, January 21, the Province of Camarines Norte will be declared as “Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development” by the Provincial Government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio P Catapang, Jr will be in Camarines Norte during the declaration.

“We will pursue with vigor the declaration of programmed areas for “Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development,” said Major General Visaya. “We will communicate our goals to the various stakeholders and vigorously engage the local government units to take the lead for the welfare and well-being of their constituents,” he said.

SOLCOM will continually sharpen its tools of war and improve its fighting capabilities. Also, it will continue to adapt to the ever changing operational environment, sustain pressure and keep the enemy on the run.

“We will be doing these while we transform to a more credible force,” said Major General Visaya.

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