By Roy Mabasa
In a hurry to restore peace in Mindanao, President Duterte has personally witnessed the official activation of the 11th Infantry (ALAKDAN) Division in Jolo, Sulu, and placed some 840 troops and air assets from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in the area.
The President flew to Sulu on Monday, hours before attending the 40th birthday celebration of boxing icon and Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao in General Santos City.
In his remarks at Pacquiao’s birthday fete, Duterte cited that there would be “some movements” in Mindanao since he is “in a hurry” in attaining peace in the region and, in order for his negotiation to succeed, he needs to “go higher.”
If the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) would pass in the plebiscite to be held in January and February 2019, the President said he still needs time to talk to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari.
“Nur Misuari is my friend. I am open to any other arrangement, but that would not intrude into the sovereignty… a dismemberment of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the 11th Infantry Division is armed and equipped to “address the peculiarity of the enemy, weather and terrain, as well as enemy techniques, tactics and procedure, and other variables unique to the island-province of Sulu.”
Accordingly, the division-sized unit will augment the AFP’s anti-terrorist operations in Sulu in lieu of moving an existing troop from another part of the country.