Amidst rumors of infiltration after the Mamasapano encounter, military officials assured that Cebu remains free from rebels.
Governor Hilario P. Davide III clarified the matter with the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) in a Provincial Peace and Order Council Meeting last March 6 at the Capitol.
The governor asked if there is some truth to rumors on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) presence in Cebu.
“Sa ngayon po, wala po kaming natatanggap o wala po kaming report na nakatakbo sila rito o nakapunta (As of now, we don’t have reports about their presence (Central Visayas) especially in (Cebu City)),,” said AFP Central Command (Centcom) Commander Major General Nicanor Vivar.
Nevertheless, he said they are strengthening their intelligence reports. And if the rebels have indeed infiltrated, he said, “The Philippine National Police (PNP) and AFP can sustain them.”
Gov. Davide stated that some members of the Muslim community in Cebu might have relatives in the BIFF or MILF. However, he added that so far there is no indication of Muslim upheaval related to the Mamasapano incident.
At least 44 commandos of the Special Action Forces-PNP and 18 members of the MILF/BIFF were killed in the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“Sa report po namin ay peace-loving yong Muslims natin dito. At sila mismo ayaw nilang makapasok sila (Muslim rebels) dito at makapaggawa ng gulo, (In our report, the Muslims here are peace-loving. They themselves don’t want the rebels to come and cause chaos here),” Col. Vivar further stated.
He added that they will protect their reputation as peace-loving community in Cebu.
Meanwhile, Col. Allan Martin, 302nd Brigade commander, said the province continues to be insurgency-free.
However, Martin said “security challenges may threaten the stability of the province if primary and secondary issues are not properly addressed.”
Martin said legal front of the communist group may take advantage of negative issues like land disputes, which “can make people vulnerable to deception.”
The AFP believes that their Bayanihan Team activities in support to community-based development efforts repel any New People’s Army recruitment works in Cebu as well as other parts of Central Visayas.