Investors’ social responsibility projects crucial vs. insurgency – Bukidnon Army chief

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 11 March) – There is a need to harness the corporate social responsibility projects among investors as part of the effort to combat insurgency in Bukidnon, the military said.

Col. Francisco Pabayo, commanding officer of the Malaybalay-based 403rd Infantry Brigade, was summoned by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Monday to give updates on the attacks of the New People’s Army on properties of Del Monte and Dole on February 19 and the Army’s pursuit operations.

He said in his PowerPoint presentation that the investors’ CSR projects need reassessment and subsequent consultation with the investors.

Pabayo said that the CSR projects need to be tied up with the entire community as these should be able to help address the issues identified in the locality. He added that the projects should cater to the needs of the community, identifying aspects such as education, health, environment, social services, and livelihood.

He identified the other stakeholders as the local government units, civil society organizations, investors and planters, and the members of the community.

Jorge Madlos, National Democratic Front-Mindanao spokesperson, in a statement hours after the attack, blamed Del Monte for allegedly destroying the environment and contributing to the damage wrought by tropical storm Sendong.

Pabayo, however, related the attacks to the rebels’ collection of revolutionary taxes. He said, too, that the attacks do not mean that Del Monte’s CSR projects did not go to the right places and recipients.

The military and the rest of the security sector alone, he said, cannot address the problem of insurgency. He presented the so-called Integrated Security Plan Framework, which looks at the army and the police as only a part of whole gamut of stakeholders supporting each other.

Pabayo admitted that the military also had lapses in the incident. He added that there is a need for possible realignment of forces, citing that previously the 403IB had three battalions. Now it only has two.

“We would appreciate if there is realignment, but we respect the decision at the top,” he added.

He said there is a need to allay the fears of both companies and communities through security augmentation.

Among the things they have done after the attack, Pabayo said, was to hold a meeting on February 24 with the military and police along with security officers of the different planters and agricultural plantations.

Asked by board member Nemesio Beltran Jr. if the government is losing the war against the rebels, Pabayo said that in the armed component, the military is better off.

“But this is only one aspect. There is also the legal front,” he added. Pabayo cited that because the government’s security forces follow the law, they are sort of constrained.

He described the insurgency problem as a political war, which needs interventions from the political front.

Board member Jay Albarece, who chairs the committee on peace and order, pointed out that the NPA may be the oldest insurgency in the country but its forces are getting younger. He also rated the performance of the intelligence community in the province as “poor” during the time of the attack.

Pabayo preferred to rate “average,” noting that government security forces cannot be at all places at the same time.

He admitted that the insurgency situation in the province is a primary concern “but not alarming,” calling the attack a sample of the rebels’ attention seeking strategies.

Beltran backed Albarece’s call for the Provincial Peace and Order Council to convene, saying it will be the proper body to convene and address the problem. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)