It is by winning the hearts and minds of stakeholders through engagement and implementation of social services that the Philippine Army hopes to win insurgency problem, and not by military means, Major General Roseller Murillo, commanding officer of the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, said in his message during the 16th Reactivation Anniversary of the 53rd Infantry (Matapat) Battalion held on August 16, 2018 at Camp David Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.
Maj. Gen. Murillo said the Army understands the problem more profoundly, thus, they continue to engage and catalyze dialogue among the stakeholders to end issues on insurgency in their area of responsibility.
“In the Army, we want to make our organization more dynamic by engaging our stakeholders, the local chief executives, media, youth and civilians in our activities,” Murillo said.
Maj. Gen. Murillo said the stakeholders are the main actors in the implementation of Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) while the Philippine Army is the supporting actor.
“Anywhere in the country, you can find our soldiers more disciplined, credible, professional and effective,” Murillo said.
Maj. Gen. Murillo said shared an incident sometime around 1980 in which when their troops entered a barangay in North Cotabato, they got scared looks from the children.
“But all these changed now,” Maj. Gen. Murillo said, relating a recent visit in Lanao del Norte where children waved at them and looked really happy seeing the soldiers.
“They are very welcoming, and we feel loved by them,” Maj. Gen. Murillo said.
Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles said close cooperation between the military, government officials and private sector is very important to make this country peaceful.
Gov. Cerilles lauded the unit’s consistent and significant contribution to the province which was declared recently as “peaceful and ready for investment”.
Gov. Cerilles also said: “The soldiers now are well disciplined and very professional” as he thanked the 53IB for its unflinching support for the protection of Zamboanga del Sur.
“People who are deprived of peace will never enjoy democracy. You can only enjoy democracy if you have a peaceful life,” Gov. Cerilles said.
Lt. Col. Marlowe Patria, commanding officer of the “Matapat” Battalion, said: “We have so many stories to tell as we fulfill our mandate and tasks, and these stories include the civilians and our stakeholders. Without them we would have a hard time fulfilling what is expected of us”.
Lt. Col Patria said the men and women in the 53rd Infantry Battalion are fully committed to continue fulfill their mission in protecting the people and secure the land with utmost honesty and integrity.
The event also highlighted the pinning of military awards, recognition of retiring personnel and presentation of plaque of recognition to outstanding stakeholders.
During the anniversary celebration, the Matapat Firing Range was inaugurated where a a shoot fest was held. The Inter-battalion “balak” and dance competition and the week-long sports events such as basketball game, table tennis, dart, and chess were also held.