Robredo meets with Mindanao execs to tackle peace and order

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010


KORONADAL CITY -- Strategies to improve security measures in Mindanao are expected to be drawn up in a meeting called by a top Malacañang official following the resurgence of kidnapping and bomb attacks in some parts of the island.

Interior and Local Government's acting Secretary Jesse M. Robredo set the meeting Monday night in Davao City, South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Y. Pingoy Jr., said Tuesday morning.

"We will discuss the peace and order problem, particularly kidnappings and bombings [that lately recurred in Central Mindanao]," the governor said in the vernacular.

Pingoy said that kidnapping of businessmen paints an ugly picture and undermines the efforts to promote the investment potentials of Mindanao provinces.

Pingoy said that during the meeting, he would ask the Regional Peace and Order Council for Central Mindanao, headed by Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto T. Mangudadatu, to form a joint crisis management committee for South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

This as government troops continue to conduct hot pursuit operations in the boundary of the two provinces against heavily armed men who snatched last Sunday afternoon a businesswoman in Sto. Nino town, South Cotabato.

At least six armed men abducted Grace Eleuterio, owner of a grocery store and a public transport company, in an attack that resulted in the death of a store helper.

Eleuterio's husband was also injured when the suspects fired their guns but he is now declared safe from harm.

Almost at the same time on Sunday, a Chinese-Filipino businessman, Rodolfo Chio, a gasoline station owner, was kidnapped in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao, said Lt. Col. Benjamin Hao, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.

Since August, two other members of the Chinese-Filipino business community have been kidnapped separately in Cotabato City but later gained their freedom after reportedly paying ransom.

Cotabato City is one of the cities in Central Mindanao. Maguindanao, while under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is given protection by the military also securing Central Mindanao.

On Monday, Central Mindanao was rocked anew by a deadly blast that hit Carmen town in North Cotabato province. One person died and two others were hurt.

Last October 21, a unit of a Rural Transit Bus exploded while traversing Matalam town from Cagayan de Oro City to Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat. Eleven people died and scores were injured by the powerful blast.

The meeting to discuss the peace and order situation in Mindanao has been in the wish list of local business leaders for the new Aquino administration.

Allan D. Yaphockun, a businessman from this city and the governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Southwestern Mindanao, asked the President to solve the bombings that has plagued the area in the past several years.

"Past presidents have failed to address the bomb attacks in the region. I hope that President Aquino would look at the peace and order condition in Mindanao and address it to end these senseless bombings," Yaphockun said earlier. (Bong S. Sarmiento)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 17, 2010.

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