New Army unit to crush Abus – Duterte
ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that the activation of the 11th Infantry Division (ID) would help defeat the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, as he urged people in the province to help the government’s campaign against terrorism.
“I do not want a war. I do not want to kill Filipinos. I do not want the government to kill its own people,” the Philippines said as he activated the 11th ID in Sulu. “[But] there are certain developments, especially the entry of the IS (Islamic State jihadist group), which have influenced the people.”
Six Army battalions have been detailed to the new division.
Under General Orders No. 1463, which provided for the activation of the 11th ID, units under the 1st Infantry Division, such as the 101st Brigade, the 32nd Infantry Battalion and the 35th Infantry Battalion, will be assigned to the new division.
Units under the 5th Infantry Division, such as the 501st Brigade and the 21st and 41st Infantry Battalions, will be attached to the 11th ID.
Brig. Gen. Rey Pabayo Jr., the acting commander of the 11th ID, said he would sustain the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.
“We are optimistic that, with the activation of the 11th ID, we will end our campaign against terrorism and bring peace and order in Sulu,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said the activation of the 11th ID would serve as a strategy to maintain control of forces on the ground.
“We believe that the augmentation will help in our sustained campaign to bring about the defeat of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu,” he said.
Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the reorganization was a prudent move to reassess the movement and operations of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
The ceremony was held at the headquarters of Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo, Sulu.
Civil society organizations questioned the creation of the new Army division in Sulu.
Jerome Succor Aba, the national chair of Suara Bangsamoro, said the long history of the Bangsamoro showed that the presence of military in the communities would not bring true peace and development but would only bring about an atmosphere of violence.
He said the new division in Sulu would only “terrorize” civilians, “another Patikul 7 massacre waiting to happen,” referring to the yet unsolved case of the seven fruitpickers in Patikul, Sulu, who went to the farm to harvest fruits but were killed in a military camp and tagged as members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.
Martial law failure
Aba said the creation of new division attested to the failure of martial law to solve insurgency, “terror threat” and rebellion in Mindanao.
He said the establishment of the division in Sulu and the extension of martial law for another year would not solve the people’s hunger and poverty.
“Help us survive and thrive; give us land to till, provide decent wages and jobs, respect our human rights and honor the self-determination of the Lumad and Moro people,” he said. “End martial law in Mindanao and stop militarization in our communities.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.