A joint letter of directive to start the normalization process will be signed after the declaration of Negros Oriental as a “conflict manageable and development-ready province” on May 7.

The signatories will be signed by Gov. Roel Degamo, Brig. General Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302 nd  Infantry Brigade, and Senior Supt. Mariano Natu-el Jr., acting director of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office.

Present will be Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP director-general Alan Purisima, and Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the Department of National Defense.

Patrimonio said the normalization process includes the turnover of some of the tasks of the internal security operation to the police and local authorities of the province.

He said the Army will not completely abandon Negros Oriental, especially the areas where remnants of the New People’s Army are holed up.

For areas already cleared of insurgents, security and law enforcement will be turned over to the PNP, he said.

Patrimonio also said the Army will concentrate its activities on the interior parts of Sta. Catalina, Guihulngan and La Libertad, where it is slowly regaining the hearts and minds of the people.

Recent assessments showed that the rebels in Guihulngan and La Libertad have transferred to Moises Padilla and Isabela in Negros Occidental. If the rebels insist in staying in La Libertad, they will suffer similar fates as those who migrated from Sta. Catalina to Pamplona and Tanjay, whose presence was being reported by residents.

The joint letter of directive will stress the need to conduct cross trainings with the police, strengthening of the barangay defense system, bantay bayan and tanods, to prevent the reentry of rebels in areas already cleared of the insurgency problem.

This will be supervised by the military and the PNP, with the support of the provincial government. “The army will still be here in securing and winning the peace and as able partner of development,” Patrimonio said.

Degamo attributed the success of the counter-insurgency operation to the cooperation and joint efforts of the military, PNP and various sectors.

A sky-diving exhibition by the Army Parachute Team, and a drill exhibition by the 3 rd  Infantry Division band will precede the joint declaration and signing ceremonies.

Also signatories are 3 rd  ID commander Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladar, and Police Regional Office-7 director, Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, with Gazmin, Purisima, Maj. Gen. John Bonafos, commander of the AFP Central Command; Supt. Catalino Rodriguez of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations Visayas, and Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council, as witnesses.*JG