Special Forces troops pull out of Bohol, replaced by 47th IB
(The Freeman) - October 21, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - After seven years and nine months sustaining the insurgency-free status of Bohol, the 2nd Special Forces Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines bid goodbye to the province for another assignment in Eastern Mindanao.

Replacing the SF troops were the soldiers of the 47th Infantry Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Jose Belloga, under the 302nd Infantry Brigade, headed by Colonel Allan Martin, of the 3rd Infantry Division, which came from an assignment in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

A Joint Reception and Send off Ceremonies was held yesterday at the Bohol Cultural Center, administered by Lieutenant General Nicanor Vivar, commander of the AFP Central Command. Colonel Arnulfo Matangguihon, commander of the 802nd IB, also led the troops in the rites.

Vivar assured the Bohol government and the rest of the stakeholders that the pullout of the SF troops was for the public’s best interest in line with the sense of duty, understanding and sympathy. The SF will continue to be a partner of Bohol in the development efforts, despite the substantial change, he said.

Colonel Potenciano Camba was the first commander of the 2nd SF Battalion when it came to Bohol, He was replaced on August 28 by Lieutenant Colonel Gaspar Panopio.

Vivar cited the leadership of Camba and Panopio for the SF’s significant contribution in attaining internal peace and security in Bohol. He also appreciated the support of the Philippine National Police, other government agencies and stakeholders of the province, and lauded the accomplishments of the Country-side Community Development-Purok power movement, as espoused by Governor Edgar Chatto.

During the ceremonies, Chatto handed certificates and plaques of appreciation to the members of the 2nd SF Battalion for their response to emergency situations during the 2013 earthquake, and typhoons Yolanda and Seniang’s devastation in the province.

Chatto said the 2nd SF Battalion can replicate the Bohol lessons in the collaborative work with the AFP in peace and internal security and in the implementation of local development programs to other provinces of the country.

Chatto cited that lessons from the programs undertaken, and the purok power movement that formed part of the social economic development strategy to achieve lasting peace, of which different sectors work for peace with the military. He also said the unity of the stakeholders, the local government and the AFP could “achieve so much change” and there will be a smooth transition as the new troops come in.

The 2nd SF Battalion had partnered with the provincial government’s CDP-PPM, which addressed concerns from the community, especially in far-flung areas. However, they clashed with the militant farmers groups, Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL) and Farmers Development Center, which accused the military of allegedly encroaching into their area at Barangay San Vicente in Trinidad town, where they operated a rice milling.

HUMABOL and FARDEC, together with other groups, have been calling for the pullout of the 2nd SF Battalion, but Matangguihon clarified that yesterday’s pullout of the troops had nothing to do with harassment issue raised by the militant groups. —Angeline Valencia (FREEMAN)

A JOINT RECEPTION AND SEND ACIRC ANGELINE VALENCIA BARANGAY SAN VICENTE BATTALION BOHOL BOHOL CULTURAL CENTER CAMBA AND PANOPIO CENTRAL COMMAND CHATTO COLONEL ALLAN MARTIN
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