ZAMBOANGA CITY – The chief of the regional police office here on Tuesday said the improved partnership between security forces and the Moro fronts in Zamboanga Peninsula has helped thwart “potential crisis” from armed groups.
Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, director for Police Regional Office 9 (PRO), said crime rate in Zamboanga Peninsula region has significantly went down in recent years following strong collaborations with the leaderships of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“There were almost zero major incidents such as bombings that occurred in Zamboanga Peninsula,” he said during a “Peace Forum,” which was attended by the top brass of the police regional office.
“We were able to avert potential crisis situations because our close coordinations with the Moro fronts.”
“We felt the need to seal the gains, that’s why we invited them (MNLF and MILF) and show our appreciation,” he said.
He said it is very important for the police to fully understand and appreciate the overall peace process.
“It is very important for the policemen to understand the peace process and its protocols. We always put premium to sustain the gains of the peace process,” Beltran said.
“We are very careful not to bring distrust among the parties,” he said.
According to him, the police has set up several mechanisms to regularly coordinate with the Moro fronts.
“That process is already embedded in our organization. We have people in charge to directly communicate and collaborate with the Moro fronts,” he said.
“We needed to get in touch with them every now and then. We want them to know that we are thankful and share our milestones to them,” Beltran said.
During the forum, Peter Cheng, program manager of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for Western Mindanao, provided updates to the top police officers of the six-point Peace and Development Agenda.
Cheng said the office has conducted several peace tables across the country to initiate peace conversations.
“OPAPP is engaging different sectors. More than 10 peace table have been conducted,” he said.
In parallel, OPAPP is also implementing more than 200 projects across Zamboanga Peninsula like, and island provinces of Basilanz Sulu, and Tawi-tawi under the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn or PAMANA.
PAMANA aims to extend development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, conflict-affected communities to ensure that they are not left behind.
For his part, Lt. Col. Abdurasad Sirajan, action officer of GPH-AHJAG for Western Mindanao, briefed top police officers in Zamboanga Peninsula on the development of the southern peace process.
He said there’s a need for the security forces to put premium to the peace process to address the growing threat of radicalism in Mindanao.
“We need to protect the primacy of the peace process amid threats from terrorist groups,” he said.
The Peace Forum is an annual event initiated by the Police to deepen their collaboration with the Moro fronts and update on the developments of the peace process. ###