The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” Battalion (53IB) and 547th Engineer “AGILA” Battalion (547EB) reaffirmed their strengthened partnership in building farm-to-market roads to bring progress and development to remote areas in Zamboanga del Sur during the latter’s visit to 53IB Headquarters Camp Major David Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur on March 24, 2021.
547EB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Michael Lemi and 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera exchanged pleasantries during the visit while exhorting on serving the communities and securing the area of operations with numerous road constructions in the Province of Zamboanga del Sur.
The collaboration of 53IB and 547EB in constructing farm-to-market roads provided easier access to hinterland barangays, which were previously NPA-infested areas. This translated to the improved delivery of basic and government services including health services, education, and the creation of job opportunities.
The newly constructed farm-to-market roads also constricted the manneuver space of the NPA that further led to more intensive military operations.With the improvement of poor living conditions in communities in Conflict-Affected Areas, the CPP-NPA was consequently declared as Persona-Non-Grata in the barangays. The withdrawal of mass base support and intensive military operations against them has degraded and weakened the NPA’s will to fight which prompted the influx of surrendering NPA members.
“Our strong partnership inspires everyone to exert more in our service to the communities to maintain peace and order in our Area of Operations,” Lt. Col. Lemi said.
“The opening and rehabilitation of roads are vital in connecting ease-of-access from farm to market to empower the communities in the hinterlands for economic development. The roads are also of tactical importance for our combat and non-combat operations,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.