Marines hand over Basilan to Army unit-A A +A
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
THE First Marine Brigade bade farewell to Basilan as it officially turned over Wednesday the responsibility of the Internal Security Operations (ISO) to the newly-formed unit of the Philippine Army's Special Operations Command (Socom).
Brigadier General Eugene Clemen, Philippine Marines commandant and Marine Forces South (Marforsouth) commander, expressed sadness over their leaving Basilan, citing memories down to the fallen Marine troops who sacrificed their lives to bring peace to the province.
Basilan is a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf bandits and "lost command" rebels.
The turnover ceremony Wednesday was held at Camp Luis Biel II in the village of Tabiawan, Isabela City, the province’s capital.
Clemen said it is also sad for them to leave Basilan considering the deep attachment they already have with the residents of the province.
He said the Marine troops made many friends and "infused many projects to capacitate the people as part of waging the fight against terrorism."
One of the major accomplishments of the Marines, with the support of the Army's Light Reaction Company (LRC), is the capture of the bomb-making and training camp of the Jemaah Islamiyah militants and Abu Sayyaf bandits in August 2009.
The capture of the camp paved the way for the construction of infrastructure projects, to include roads, thereby allowing villagers easy access to the market.
Basilan Governor Jum Akbar thanked the Marine troops for the sacrifices and job well-done during their stay in the province.
The turnover ceremony came after the bulk of the First Marine Brigade was transported to Cotabato where the soldiers are deployed from Basilan.
The entire brigade should have left Basilan earlier but its departure was delayed since the soldiers have yet to render poll security duty as a special election was held last Saturday.
With the departure of the Marine brigade, the ISO responsibility is now being handled by the newly-created Special Operations Task Force-Basilan (SOTF-B).
Akbar welcomed the deployment of the SOTF-B to the province.
The task force is composed of a battalion of Special Forces, one battalion of Scout Ranger, 32nd Infantry Battalion and cadre companies.
The task force, which was created last month, is headed by Colonel Nicanor Dolojan, the concurrent deputy command of Socom, based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
Clemen urged the residents of Basilan to support the task force. (Bong Garcia)