ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) is intensifying “the defense of areas that are deemed most vulnerable” to thwart another attack by the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan province.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, issued the statement on Wednesday as officials of the province agreed to strengthen the security up to the barangay level and “to keep the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPAT) active.”
On Monday, nine people were killed while 16 others were wounded when Abu Sayyaf bandits attacked Barangay Tubigan, Maluso, Basilan.
“We have to fortify the defense of areas that are deemed most vulnerable, but to accomplish that we need your commitment because, as local government officials, you know which mechanism will work well in your respective areas,” Galvez said.
“There is a need for us to strengthen our defenses that is why I am encouraging all mayors down to the barangay chairmen to do their part in this fight against terrorism,” Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman said.
On Tuesday, Basilan and military officials discussed in a meeting security issues that need to be implemented the soonest in the entire province.
Local officials of Basilan were further encouraged to report all information obtained and to involve all sectors as security issues hamper cultural and religious development.
“Basilan is a model for counter-terrorism. We also speak highly of the province and mention the same to local chief executives in Marawi City, but our enemy wants to embarrass us that is why they continue to do actions that will put us to shame. As the Martial Law Implementor in the entire Western Mindanao area, we still want you to be on top of the situation in your respective municipalities,” Galvez added.
He vowed to support the local government, saying he considers himself a Basileño having been assigned in the province during his younger military days.
“We will help you strengthen your Barangay defenses by training those who have the capacity to fight. Do not worry, we will not leave you,” he said.
Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, has encouraged the residents to joint the fight against terrorism.
“This is not solely police or a military problem; civilians have to take part in this fight. We all have to be involved, we all have to be aware, and we all have to report—this is our campaign against terror— to make all civilians understand,” Uy said. TPGJR/PNA