With the US State Department labeling the Philippines as one of the five countries with the most number of terror attacks in 2016, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has teamed up with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in empowering lower barangays to deal with all kinds of security threats.
Estrada has formally welcomed to the City of Manila a 25-man security contingent from the AFP’s Joint Task Force-National Capital Region that will be deployed in Quiapo to conduct a two-month Community Support Program.
“Your efforts to insulate our communities from violent extremist ideologies, and from the influence of groups seeking to recruit individuals for their radical activities, will have long-term benefits as we seek to create a peaceful and progressive city,” Estrada told the CSP personnel during the sendoff ceremonies at the City Hall.
Formerly called the Peace and Development Outreach Program, CSP is an AFP initiative that seeks to build conflict-resilient communities that will be able to independently address all kinds of threats, particularly terror threats and natural calamities and disasters.
In welcoming the CSP soldiers, Estrada said he is hoping that the JTF-NCR’s work in Manila “will spend the end of radicalization and polarization, and improve the prospects for peace and unity in our time.”
Barangays 383 and 384, both in Quiapo, were chosen as pilot sites of the program in Manila in the next two months, according to JTF-NCR deputy commander Col. Victor Tomas.
Quiapo, which hosts one of the largest Muslim communities in Metro Manila, has recently been rocked by security threats, such as the two bomb explosions that killed two persons and injured 20 more.
The CSP contingent, composed of 23 soldiers and two policemen, will hold community immersion in the two barangays to propagate the competencies of the barangays in humanitarian assistance and disaster response both for “human- and nature-induced” threats.
Aside from securing Barangays 383 and 384 from violent extremism and terrorism, the CSP personnel, in coordination with the barangay personnel, will also conduct various activities such as tree-planting; construction, repair and cleanup of schools and other facilities, education-information drive, disaster response trainings, and interfaith activities, Tomas added.
Based in Camp Aguinaldo, JTF-NCR or Task Force NCR, is one the AFP’s Joint Task Forces assigned to combating terrorism and insurgency and act as support units to the National Capital Regional Police Office in maintaining peace and order within Metro Manila.
JTF-NCR was formally called the National Capital Region Defense Command, which was originally established on January 2, 1987 to provide security and support services to the Presidential Security Group in the event of a coup d’état or civil disobedience.
In the 2016 US Country Reports on Terrorism released Wednesday, the US State Department named the Philippines as one of the five countries in the world where the highest number of terror attacks were recorded in 2016.
It said more than half of the 11,072 worldwide attacks last year took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Among attacks cited by the US State Department report were the discovery of a bomb near the US Embassy in Manila in November, the Abu Sayyaf Group’s beheading of several hostages throughout last year, the deadly September bombing in Davao City, clashes between state forces and communist rebels in July, and the siege of Butig town, Lanao del Sur by Islamic State-linked fighters in November.