PBBM to declare Negros Island under stable internal peace status

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The 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Negros is now coordinating with the Malacanang as to the visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (PBBM) for the declaration of Negros Island under Stable Internal Peace and Security (Sips) status.

Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said Wednesday, May 15, that both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental have recommended their respective provinces in Sips status.

When Marcos visited the 3ID headquarters late last year, Edralin recalled that PBBM vowed to return, to personally declare Negros Island under Sips status.

An area may qualify to be placed under Sips status if all the existing rebel guerilla fronts and its front organizations dismantled, former rebel controlled barangays remained cleared, cutting off of support to armed group from white to red areas, and establishment of integrated territorial defense system, according to Edralin.

The armed group, including its Regional Strike Force, have already been reduced to an “insignificant number,” he said, noting also that the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijior has not conducted any tactical offensives for the past one year and a half against government forces, who always on top of the situation.

“They can run, but they cannot hide,” Edralin said.

“That is why, we continue to engage them, because also of the support of the masses, who provided us the timely information, that lead to encounters with rebel remnants,” he added.

Even after the declaration of Sips status, Edralin and Brig. Gen. Joey Escanillas, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, assured that the Philippine Army will remain in Negros Island.

Escanillas said a Sips status would be a key factor in boosting the province’s economic growth as it sends a signal to business entrepreneurs to invest in the province due to the relatively peaceful situation.

In terms of law enforcement and Internal Security Operations (ISO), Escanillas said there will be a gradual turnover of ISO from the government’s armed forces to the Philippine National Police (PNP), since a Sips declaration would mean the local government units (LGUs) and the PNP will spearhead anti-insurgency efforts in their areas.

The continued presence of Army troops in Negros Island also aimed at avoiding the resurgence of NPA, which had taken place in the middle of 1990s, he added.*

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