Army Special Forces launch ‘fighters to farmers’ program in Sulu

The Army’s 2nd Special Forces Battalion (2SFBn) has launched the “fighters to farmers” program to provide sustainable livelihood to formers members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Talipao, Sulu.

Lt. Col. Benito Ramos Jr., 2SFBn commander, said Wednesday that the program aims to put food on the table of ASG surrenderers and their families.

“This food on the table concept was a success in empowering communities in Basilan. We believe that this will also boost our PCVE (Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism) efforts here in Sulu,” Ramos said in a statement.

Ramos said the military and the Provincial Task Force in Ending Local Armed Conflict (PTF-ELAC) have constructed several enabling facilities to include a two-kilometer water system from Sitio Tubig Dakula, Barangay Upper Sinumaan to Barangay Bud Bunga in the municipality of Talipao.

The PTF-ELAC is Sulu’s version of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

He said that the ASG surrenderers from Talipao town are programmed to undergo workshops in agriculture workshops to be facilitated by soldiers who know practical and traditional farming techniques.

“They (ASG surrenderers) will also be acquainted with the use of technologies including motorized tillers to increase efficiency and yield,” he added.

Capt. Ron Villarosa Jr, 6th Special Forces Company commander and project convener of the “Fighters to Farmers’ program, said the project will help change the security landscape of the province.

“Food is peace served on the table. By empowering the ASG surrenderers and the community with the means to provide for their basic needs, we are reducing the vulnerability of the ASG surrenderers and the community to be dragged into the conflict in exchange for food, money, or other subsistence,” Villarosa said in a separate statement.

Since September last year, 14 ASG bandits have surrendered to government authorities in Talipao, Sulu.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, 11th Infantry Division commander, commended the troops for their ingenuity in confronting security threats in the province.

“This kind of initiative showcase how committed and professional our modern Army is. We strive to become experts in project development and community organizing through the aid of our partner agencies,” said Gonzales, who is also the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu commander.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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