Monday Oct, 26 2020 01:29:36 AM

Motorcade confirms peace now in Basilan mountain ranges

Mindanao Peace Process • 10:30 AM Tue Sep 15, 2020
John M. Unson
The motorcade was the first since the highway was opened to vehicles. (John Unson)
BASILAN --- Hundreds of vehicles motored Monday on a new highway straddling through the once dangerous Sampinit Complex to show how safe now are the mountain ranges in the center of this island province.
The convoy of four-wheeled vehicles and motorcycles was led by Gov. Jim Salliman and Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, who is Basilan’s lone congressional representative, and Major Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. of the military’s Western Mindanao Command.
They were accompanied by local officials from different towns and representatives from the Basilan provincial police office.
Vinluan, who has jurisdiction over military units in Basilan, said he was fascinated with the peace now in the Sampinit Complex, a former bastion of the Abu Sayyaf.
“We ought to thank the leaders who embarked on this road project and all the police and military personnel helping secure it. We also have to thank the local sectors supporting its implementation,” Vinluan said.
Salliman said his administration is grateful to the Basilan provincial police, the 101st Infantry Brigade and its unit, the 64th Infantry Battalion, for supporting the construction of the more than 30-kilometer “transcentral road,”
The route is also being touted as the “peace highway,” a flagship infrastructure project designed to boost the recovery of Basilan from underdevelopment due to armed conflicts in decades past.
The motorcade on Monday was meant to show how far has the provincial government gone in constructing the Basilan transcentral road.
The project was first bankrolled by the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and is now, subsequently, being
funded by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, most known as BARMM.
The highway cuts through Sampinit Complex, where the Abu Sayyaf once ran a Taliban-style shadow government and held more than 200 captives snatched in different towns in Basilan and from the Zamboanga peninsula from between 1993 to 2013.
The route interconnects the towns of Maluso and Sumisip and Barangay Santa Clara in Lamitan City, the capital of Basilan where the new provincial capitol complex is located.
Salliman said he is optimistic they can finish constructing the remaining three-kilometer stretch of the transcentral road by yearend.
Salliman and Hataman, while still governor of ARMM, embarked on the road project to hasten the restoration of normalcy in former enclaves of the Abu Sayyaf whose occupants started to abandon in 2016 as a result of their domestic peace process.
Almost 300 Abu Sayyaf members have since bolted from the group and rejoined the mainstream communities through the joint intercession of Salliman and Hataman.
Vinluan, who has jurisdiction over military units in Basilan, said he has directed military units in Basilan to embark on more peace-building programs in support of domestic initiatives aimed at restoring normalcy in conflict-torn areas in the island province.

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