BY: LIEUTENANT COLONEL EDGARD A AREVALO PN(M)
Director, Naval Public Affairs Office
An attack by the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group to a team of naval engineers in Basilan will not deter the Navy from completing the school building project in Sumisip town. This was the assurance given by Vice Admiral Ferdinand S Golez, Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy after receiving reports of the assault by the ASG.
Members of the 39th Marine Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team-9, who were providing security to the team of engineers exchanged fire with an undetermined number of ASG Friday morning, 11 September 2009. The engineers from the Naval Construction Brigade (Seabees) were reconstructing school buildings at Sitio Erely, Brgy Central, Sumisip town that were burned down by the ASG in March 2009.
The Marines who immediately returned fire forced the enemy to flee. Reinforcements from a nearby detachment arrived to conduct clearing operations. No casualties were reported on either side.
Vice Admiral Golez said the Navy’s Fleet-Marine team remains firm in its commitment of delivering services and humanitarian projects in the area despite threats posed by lawless groups. “The Navy recognizes the importance of this project to uplift the lives of residents and the vicious attack by the ASG will not stop us from pursuing development projects in Basilan.” “This attack only emboldens the Navy all the more to pursue development projects where they are needed the most,” added Vice Admiral Golez.
In winning the hearts and minds of the people, the AFP shifts its fight from the battlefield to Civil Military Operations (CMO) that will involve soldiers in medical, dental, disaster relief, government development projects, and other humanitarian missions.