Thursday, August 27, 2009

Balabac residents return

Manila Bulletin, Sunday, 23 August 2009
By: Elena Aben

Some 1,500 residents of Balabac
Island in Palawan who fled their
village following a siege staged by
renegade Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) members have
returned to their homes, the Armed
Forces said on Friday.
Navy spokesman, Lt. Col. Edgard
Arevalo, said as of 1:00 p.m. Friday,
the residents, numbering about 1,500
have been returned to their normal
lives following the successful fleet-marine
operations that ended the
atrocities committed by the renegade
MNLF group. 10 renegade MNLF
members were killed in the process.
In a report sent by Naval Forces
West commander, Commodore Orwen
Cortez to Philippine Navy Flag
Officer-in-Command (FOIC), Vice
Admiral Ferdinand Golez, he said
"the jubilant residents started heading
to their homes this morning and
returned to their normal lives."
Cortez, Marine Battalion Landing
Team 8 (MBLT8) commanding officer,
Lt. Col. Yuri Pesigan; Western
Command commanding officer, Maj.
Gen. Hernane Perez; and Palawan
Provincial director, P/Senior Supt.
Aurelio Trampe visited the town folk
who thanked the AFP and the PNP
for coming to their aid.
Arevalo said a company-size
Marine team from 38th Marine
Company established their post as a
stay-behind force to ensure that the
situation shall continue to remain
"We feel elated by the people's
display of gratitude even as we continue
to be haunted by accusations
as to how the fleet-marine operations
were conducted in support of
the local PNP of Mantangule island,"
Arevalo said.
"But the Navy will remain steadfast
in its commitment to be our
people's partner in peace, progress,
and prosperity," he added.
AFP public affairs office chief, Lt.
Col.Romeo Brawner, Jr., meanwhile,
said the security of the area was left
to the local police, who shall continue
to secure the place to prevent another
attack by the rebels.
Brawner also assured the people
that government forces from the
Western Command are prepared to
respond in case the need arises.

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