Military taps task force to strengthen security in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY — The Armed Forces of the Philippines this week activated the Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia to facilitate effective military response to disasters and further enhance security in the Bicol region.

“The formal activation of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia is a clear indication of our persistence to usher in the best improvements for the AFP,” said Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., AFP chief of staff, during Monday’s ceremony at Barangay Puro here.

“(It) is a concrete step that we have taken to further fortify the quest of the AFP, particularly the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), to bring and sustain peace and security in the Bicol region,” he added.

Land, air, sea assets

The task force will combine and integrate the AFP’s land, air, and naval capabilities to secure the region’s six provinces, including the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes.

Tapped to head the joint task force is Maj. Gen. Jesus Mananquil Jr., 9th Infantry Division commander.

The task will fall under the direct command and supervision of the Solcom, headed by Lt. Gen. Danilo Pamonag, and will be composed of the 9th Infantry Division, the region’s tactical operations group, and the naval forces in Southern Luzon.

Emergency situations

According to Galvez, JTF Bicolandia “will perform the vital task of protecting from security threats the region’s budding economic landscape, vast agricultural sector, and popular tourist hubs, as well as  orchestrating joint operations in response to emergency situations.”

Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said JTF Bicolandia would facilitate easier coordination for synchronized military operations and faster response in the Bicol region.

According to Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council, the military’s presence in Bicol is important to protect government programs and infrastructure projects in the region. Reports from Jeannette Andrade, Michael Jaucian and Delfin Mallari Jr.

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