QUEZON CITY (19 June 2023) – The national government’s peacekeeping interventions continue to gain headway, as the National Task Force for the Disbandment of Private Armed Groups (NTF-DPAGs) has disbanded 18 potential private armed groups operating in regions 9, 12, and Bangsamoro.

This, according to Police Major General Victor K. Wanchakan, deputy commander of the Task Force DPAGs in Western Mindanao, who presented his group’s accomplishments during the Twelfth Oversight Committee Meeting of the NTF-DPAGs on Monday, June 19.

In his presentation, Police Major General Harold B. Tuazon, Deputy Commander of Area Police Command – Eastern Mindanao, reported that the number of active criminal gangs in regions 10, 11, and 13 has gone down from sixteen to 4.

According to Tuazon, this positive development is due to the relentless efforts of the task force to neutralize lawless elements, which include the increased deployment of troops in the area from the second quarter of 2022 until the same period this year.

Help ex-PAG members transition as peaceful citizens

For his part, Acting Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity and NTF DPAGs Special Adviser Sec. Isidro L. Purisima emphasized the importance of helping former PAG members transition to becoming peaceful and productive citizens.

“Another aspect that we need to enhance is how we can help these ex-armed group members make the successful transition as peaceful, productive and law-abiding individuals. This is why the work carried out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development is crucial,” Purisima said.

“As chair of the National Technical Group on Rehabilitation and Reintegration, it must not only help former PAG members rebuild their lives but also aid them as they eventually return to mainstream society. By doing this, we will be able to demonstrate that good things come to those who choose the path of peace and encourage other PAG members to return to the folds of the law,“ he added.

Security sector’s support to NTF-PAGs

Meanwhile, NTF DPAGs Vice Chairperson Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. reaffirmed the security sector’s full and strong support to the disbandment of private armed groups.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines, normally being deputized as law enforcers by the Philippine National Police, stands ready and able to support within the legal framework all efforts in order to have a nuanced and focused approach to the disbandment of PAGs,” he said.

NTF DPAGs Chairperson and Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur C. Abalos Jr. is confident that the task force will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring peace and security in Mindanao..

“This group is a very important group and we could do a lot… Let’s look forward to a peaceful Mindanao,” Abalos said.

Purisima also lauded the task force for its peacekeeping initiatives which are helping to push forward the peace processes in the country.

“We, in OPAPRU, remain confident that the NTF DPAGs will be able to keep up its outstanding work, as we all continue to work together to help build on and sustain the gains of the comprehensive Philippine peace process,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the task force is making headway, as we help create the conditions where a just and long-lasting peace can take root and flourish. To the NTF DPAGs member agencies who are here today, thank you for your invaluable contribution, to making this vision a reality,” Purisima added.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the landmark agreement signed by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014, provides for a comprehensive approach in strengthening peace and order, as well as addressing emerging security concerns in the Bangsamoro region.

This holistic approach includes, among others, the disbandment of private armed groups, the implementation of a program for small arms and light weapons management, the redeployment of Armed Forces of the Philippines troops, policing, and the clearing of unexploded ordnance and landmines. ###