The Municipal Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) in the Lanao del Sur town of Madalum has deployed Community Support Teams (CSTs) of the Philippine Army’s 55th Infantry Battalion (55IB) to address problems on terrorism.
Madalum Vice Mayor Sultan Usman Sarangani, Sr. led the sendoff ceremony on September 2, 2020, of the CSTs held at the headquarters of the 55IB based in that municipality.
“I thank the military of today, especially the 55th Infantry Battalion, for being a professional military. I am grateful that they do not only help us eliminate the threat of terrorism, but they also help us develop our communities,” Sarangani said.
In a statement Wednesday, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division (1ID) said the teams were deployed to Barangays Liangan Uno and Basak to rid the two areas of terrorist influence primarily by resolving social issues, which are exploited by terrorist elements to recruit new members and maintain their influence.
The Army division said the CSP teams are also tasked to deter the terrorist from conducting atrocities against the target communities during their deployment.
Lt. Col. Franco Raphael Alano, 55IB commander, thanked the municipal government for the “untiring dedication to attain lasting peace and sustainable development in the municipality.”
Alano challenged the CSTs to perform their mandates to the best of their abilities and ensure that the communities where they will be deployed will not only improve significantly but will also be able to sustain all developmental efforts on their own.
Alano also implored the much-needed collaboration of the local government unit stressing that peace cannot be attained by the military alone.
He asked the assistance of the residents to convince members of the terrorist groups to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law, adding it was “never too late to change and mend their ways to live a peaceful and happy life together with their family.”
The CSTs are part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Community Support Program (CSP), which aims to eradicate the influence of terrorist groups in vulnerable communities.
It is being implemented through an inter-agency approach to address the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, lack of education, and limited access to basic services.
The end state of the program is to strengthen governance in target areas to a point where local communities can effectively maintain peace and sustain progress on their own. (PNA)