ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 3 October) – The Philippine Army deactivated joint task forces (JTFs) Basilan and Sulu on Monday and unified them into the much bigger Task Force Orion.
A press release from the Basilan Provincial Information Office said that JTFs Basilan and Sulu were disbanded after seven years and replaced with Task Force Orion, under the command of Major Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, 11th Infantry (Alakdan) Division chief.
Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade based in Basilan, announced the deactivation of JTFs Basilan and Sulu at the brigade’s headquarters.
He led the furling of JTF Basilan’s flag and the unfurling of the flag of Task Force Orion, which symbolizes “strength.”
Luzon said the defunct JTF Basilan will remain as a brigade in the island-province under TF Orion.
The adjustment is part of the strategic campaign in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi against threat groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, he added.
“This is a very, very sound operational adjustment,” Luzon said, stressing that their priority remains focused on the province’s security in collaboration with the 10 local governments and the Basilan provincial government, especially in pushing forward their respective development programs and activities.
Luzon said that Basilan has become progressive due to the relatively peaceful condition in the province, even as he admitted that there are still armed groups in the area.
Basilan Governor Jim Salliman commended JTF Basilan for its contribution to the province’s peace and order campaign in the past years. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)