he Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) has been awarded in the 60th Araw ng San Miguel Pigumpungan Festival 2020 in recognition and appreciation of its selfless service, contributions to the citizens in the Municipality of San Miguel, and support bringing forth positive impact to the community.
The Award was received by 53rd IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera in a ceremony held September 1, 2020 at the San Miguel Municipal Gymnasium, Zamboanga del Sur.
During the early days of COVID-19 pandemic, the 53rd IB was able to contribute in information campaigns to deliver timely and accurate information to the public. The Battalion was also able to distribute Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in Quarantine Control Points (QCPs) in the municipality to help preserve its force.
Through convergence and collaboration, the 53rd IB, San Miguel MTF-ELCAC, and other National Government Agencies (NGAs) have successfully implemented programs and initiatives with the goal of completely eradicating the Communist-NPA Terrorist influence in San Miguel town.
Among these are the implementation of Farm-to-Market road (FMR), Barangay Covered Court, and Barangay Site Development, and a medical outreach program in the conflict-affected barangay of Ocapan through the joined efforts of MLGU and MTF-ELCAC San Miguel headed and chaired by Hon. Mayor Martinez, 53rd IB, and Army’s 547th Engineer Battalion.
A Solar Lights Installation Training and Masonry Training were also implemented – programs under the ZDS Integrated Community Assistance and Rural Enterprise (iCare), a project of the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood, and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) chaired by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Through the Solar Lights Installation Training, the trainees – which include Former Rebels (FRs) who surrendered to 53rd IB – were able to install solar-powered street lights going to the adjacent Purok 3 of Barangay Ocapan in San Miguel town and a charging station.
The Masonry Training, through which the trainees were able to build a solar dryer, enabled the farmers to dry their produce in less time, translating to a higher income compared to one without a solar dryer.
These programs are aligned with the mandates of Executive Order No. 70 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which seeks to institutionalize the Whole of Nation approach mandating the creation TF-ELCAC.
All these are implemented vis-a-vis the 53rd IB’s role of contributing in peace and order – all conceived to further sustain the ELCAC gains and ultimately end the insurgency in San Miguel town.
In his remarks, San Miguel Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) Chairperson Hon. Mayor Angelito L Martinez II thanked the 53rd IB for its contributions especially to ending local communist armed conflict in San Miguel.
“We are forever grateful for 53rd IB under the leadership of Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera for their untiring support and dedication to duty. In due time, our dear San Miguel will be free of [NPA terrorist] influence,” said Hon. Martinez.
In response, Lt. Col. Herrera said that the 53rd IB will not stop in doing its mandate of
“We thank Mayor Martinez and the whole of SanMiguel for this recognition. We are doing our duties to the people, our stakeholders, and promise to not stop until San Miguel is free from NPA terrorist influence and lasting peace is finally achieved,” said Lt. Col. Herrera.
“Pigumpungan Festival” is a four-day festival which runs from Aug. 29-Sept. 1. Pigumpungan is a Subanen word which means ‘unity’ in local dialect.