Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Road to be built in Lanao conflict areas

Residents in conflict-ridden towns in Lanao del Norte may soon enjoy some basic government services that never reached them before and a robust livelihood with the scheduled construction of a 27-kilometer road courtesy of the US military.

The road will stretch through three towns -- which used to be havens of wanted Moro rebel commander Abdullah Macapaar alias Bravo -- Kauswagan, Matunggao and Poona Piagapo, said Army 104th Brigade Commander Col. Benito de Leon.

Three months ago, renegade Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters attacked several coastal towns in the province, including Kauswagan, where many civilians were killed and families displaced.

De Leon learned from US Army Captain Christian Knutzen, who met with Lanao del Norte Gov. Mohammad Khalid Dimaporo, that the road project has already been given the green light by the US government.

The survey prior to the implementation of the road project would take place "within a few days," according to the US captain.

Knutzen is part of the US military stationed in the province in line with the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement to carry out civil-military activities in support of the local military.

"This will significantly address the security issues in these towns because the military and the police would be able to patrol the areas easily while government services will flow in with a paved road," De Leon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone on Sunday.

In the meantime, residents and even soldiers watching over these towns have been trekking craggy pathways, which the colonel described as "worse than a carabao road" to reach their destinations.

Vehicles and trucks traveling through may run the risk of getting damaged along the way, he added. The easy way to these towns was via a chopper, he also pointed out.

In the absence of concrete roads, the towns -- mostly in the hinterland -- became hotbeds for Moro rebels, who "harped" on nothing but the government's shortcomings, said De Leon.

"Since the towns were isolated, residents became exposed to what Bravo was saying against the government," he said.

Poona Piagapo was the seat of Bravo's turf, Camp Bilal, which he previously controlled. The camp was earlier allowed as an area of temporary stay for Bravo's group while the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF was ongoing.

But he was barred from the site following his raid of Kolambugan and Kauswagan towns on August 18.

The US military also agreed to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines build a military camp in Poona Piagapo to secure residents frequently distressed over the ongoing clashes between the government and the MILF troops.

"We are optimistic that the planned development of the area will address the security issues associated with its inaccessibility, and will eventually usher in economic activity to benefit the locals," added De Leon.(By Jocelyn Uy; INQ.net)

No comments: