COTABATO CITY – Workforces of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) and the Maguindanao provincial government are now carrying out “more cohesive” outreach services to foster peace and growth in rural areas, on one hand, and attract more armed extremist guerillas back into the folds of law, on the other, officials announced lately
The two parties have for six years been working jointly in medical missions and disaster response services, but 6ID chief Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said they forged a memorandum of agreement (MoA) mandating a one-year comprehensive implementation of their community development efforts.
The MoA signing formed part of the highlights in the 45th Maguindanao foundation anniversary celebration last Nov. 22 in Buluan town.
Under the MoA, the 6ID and the Maguindanao government would intensify their joint undertakings, with the civilian party providing increased resources and the military unit maximizing troops and equipment’s availability, the governor told the Manila Bulletin.
According to regional economic and planning officials, the local civilian-military partnership has been “contributory” to the evolution of Maguindanao from 2010 to its current ”MagandaNow” tag.
Former North Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol had coined the tag in an assessment report he made while serving as consultant of Gov. Mangudadatu before becoming secretary of the Agriculture Department in 2016.
In a separate interview by the Manila Bulletin, Gen. Sobejana said he was hopeful that with the intensified military-civilian partnership, more combatants of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are expected to return to the folds of law.
At least 220 BIFF combatants including trained bomb-makers had surrendered in Maguindanao this year, Sobejana said, adding the enhanced partnership may achieve similar feat next year.
Meanwhile, the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced last week that the 6ID was adjudged again as the country’s “best military unit” this year.
The 6ID received similar exemplary citation in 2015, 2016 and 2017, becoming a “hall of famer” in the AFP’s annual assessment program on organizational and operational aspects of field military units, according to WestMinCom’s Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay. (Ali G. Macabalang)