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BASILAN, Philippines – In a move expected to streamline operations in two critical island provinces in southern Mindanao, the Philippine Army has deactivated its Joint Task Force Basilan and Joint Task Force Sulu in Mindanao and replaced it with the unified and bigger Task Force Orion.
The comprehensive force will be under the command of Major General Ignatius Patrimonio. Key operational decisions for the two provinces now lie with him as the government continues to address security threats in the region’s most porous borders.
Brigadier General Alvin Luzon, commander of the Army’s 101st Brigade, made the announcement on Monday, October 2, during the ceremony for folding up the JTF Basilan’s flag and unfurling of TF Orion’s banner at the brigade headquarters here.
Luzon explained that threat groups have been island-hopping, so the government has to respond with integrated, enhanced, and more cooperated operations in Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.
“This is a very, very sound operation adjustment,” he said. “Here in Basilan, the 101st Brigade will remain, but it will already be under Task Force Orion.”
Luzon said that the defunct task forces for Basilan and Sulu – which were set up seven years ago – will remain as a brigade based in Basilan.
Luzon said the brigade’s approach will be to collaborate with the different local government units in the province, especially in pushing their respective development programs and activities.
“We’ve seen that Basilan has become very progressive and very peaceful, but there are still isolated cases involving armed groups, and we’re addressing them,” Luzon said in Filipino.
Basilan Governor Jim Salliman-Hataman and Lamitan City Mayor Oric Furigay awarded plaques of appreciation to the deactivated JTF Basilan, lauding it for contributing to the security and peace and order in the area. – Rappler.com