TAGUM CITY -- President Macapagal-Arroyo announced the creation of an ?investment defense force (IDF),? which she said would safeguard mining and power facilities and other infrastructure against attacks by communist guerrillas.
The President made the announcement barely three days after communist rebels raided a gold processing plant in Compostela Valley and in the wake of bomb attacks against the towers of the National Transmission Corp. in Northern Mindanao.
Ms Arroyo, who inaugurated the P1.6-billion Kapalong-Talaingod-Valencia national highway that links Davao del Norte to Bukidnon, said the IDF will act as a ?protective shield? for power and mineral assets such as electricity transmission lines and mining companies.
?We also have already identified additional investment assets in Mindanao that need more weapons and personnel as protective shields,? she said in a speech at the inauguration.
Sought for clarification about the creation of the IDF, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said he still has no idea what government agencies will be involved in it.
?I am not sure about the composition of the IDF yet, whether this will be similar to the special (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) or not,? he said.
Gonzales said the only thing he was certain about was that the IDF will be under the Office of the President.
In a separate speech before the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) held here, the President also reiterated her program of ending the communist insurgency by 2010.
She said her government was committed in ?wiping out terrorists once and for all.?
She admitted that the government?s counterinsurgency program has suffered some setbacks such as in the recent clash in Davao Oriental, where at least five soldiers were killed.
?We regret and mourn with the families of those five soldiers... (but) victory is still ours for the rebels lost more (of their fighters),? Ms Arroyo said.