THE Philippine Navy has activated a militia force to boost its capability in maintaining peace and stability in the waters surrounding the Western Mindanao area.

Read Admiral Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NAVFORWEM) commander, on Saturday, February 10, said the militia force consisting of 196 individuals are undergoing a 10-day training in basic military doctrine and policies.

The trainees, who are from the different local fishing firms, will compose of the Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary (SCAA)

Medina said the training, which is being conducted in this city, started on Wednesday. The training is being handled by the 1st Western Mindanao SCAA Squadron of the NAVORWEM.

“It is to equip them with knowledge and skills essential in the performance of their role as the Navy’s partner in maintaining peace and stability in the waters surrounding Western Mindanao,” Medina said.

“This training was initiated to continuously improve their capabilities and individual abilities to counteract attempt of piracy and seajacking,” he said.

He said the SCAA, which is under the direct control of NAVFORWEM, plays a significant role in accomplishing the command's mission.

“By putting eyes and ears on different ships and through cooperation of fishing companies in the SCAA program, NAVFORWEM captured Omar Amping, the fourth most wanted person in Zamboanga City, together with five others believed to be ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) members on November 20, 2017 off the vicinity of Bolod Island, Tonquil, Sulu,” he added.

Through the SCAA, Medina said they aim to completely eradicate or at least lessen the number of seajacking and other atrocities in the region.

The SCAA will serve as the security forces of the fishing boats at high seas in Western Mindanao against pirates including the ASG that hijacked several vessels last year.

Medina said they also conducted refresher training for other SCAA members from January 23 to 27, this year, prior to the training of the newly-recruited SCAA members. (SunStar Philippines)