Calderon to mayors: Activate MPOCs to solve roots of insurgency

Although he clarified to reporters that many of the municipalities have active POCs, “some of them [in Luzon] may need to make their meetings more regular, and I would recommend to make them monthly”.

“Some would not admit it but their councils are not active,” Calderon said, though he specifically referred to Luzon, where he addressed the mayors attending the two-day Luzon Island Congress of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) at the Apo View Hotel here.

He called on the mayors, representing the 39 provinces of Luzon, “to initiate the activation of your POCs”.

“I heard that some municipalities have not even formed their POCs,” he said.

He said he would be signing soon with the Department of National Defense and his counterpart in the Armed Forces of the Philippines the joint campaign program in counterinsurgency. The program would take a new face in Mindanao where a special reconfiguration in the military organization would be made with the addition of one division to deal with the active presence of the communist-led New People’s Army guerrillas in the eastern half of the island. The Southcom would also be divided into two, where the western command would be assigned to deal with counterterrorism assignments.

“We know that it is in the municipalities, in the localities, where we have direct link with the people. Together with other officials you can discuss the common issues and concerns to determine why there is insurgency,” he said.

He assured an efficient response to the request of the mayors and told them that “if the station commander in the town can not immediately act on them, go to the provincial director, or to the regional director”.

“Or else, you can go to me,” he said.

He said the municipalities with active POCs may also benefit from an expected infusion of additional peace and order fund from the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The Palace shelled out P300 million for the National Police immediately after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered a two-year time frame to crush the communist-led insurgency. Half of the amount would be used to purchase weapons and to strengthen the police stations across the country. The other half would be used to widen the intelligence network in the barangays, put up speakers’ bureau in each police station to be their link to the community.

He said additional funds would be expected “but we have to deliver first our performance to justify the P300 million and the release of any additional fund”.

Calderon said his tenure in the PNP would be marked with “aggressive campaign against insurgency, criminality, terrorism and internal reform.”

“Battles must not only be fought in the fields, but also in the hearts and minds of the people, because we may kill as many insurgents, but we can not kill insurgency because it is an ideology,” he said. “That is why we need you, local government officials to help us, at least determine and solve the roots of the insurgency.” (MindaNews)