THE populace, civic organizations members and local government officials have coordinated with the Philippine Marines to speed up the completion of a P18-million road project in Sulu.

The United States government funded the Malimbaya-Sionogan road project through the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), which had been undertaking humanitarian projects in Sulu, said Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Velasco, chief of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 (MBLT-6).

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The eight-kilometer stretch road project, which is still part of Sulu circumferential road, connects the villages of Malimbaya, Bato-Bato and Sionogan in Indanan town.

The implementation of the road project has started in November 2009 but was stalled after Abu Sayyaf bandits and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels set-off an improvised bomb that killed two US soldiers and a Philippine Marine.

Velasco said the joint forces aimed to counter the "strings of sabotage" perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf bandits and MNLF members.

Brigadier General Celestino Pereyra, chief of the 3rd Marine Brigade, said the marine troops are just an instrument of peace and development but it will be the residents of Sulu who will benefit from it.

Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero, Joint Task Force Comet chief, has ordered the deployment of ample number of troops to ensure the protection of the people helping in the completion of the Malimbaya-Sionogan road. They expect the project to be completed in March this year.

Guerrero said they will continue to push for the implementation of more development projects in Sulu province. (Bong Garcia)