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General Catapang says gov’t winning peace in Mindanao

By ALEX D. LOPEZ

CAMP SIONGCO, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (March 5) – “The government is winning peace in Mindanao.”

This was the assessment made by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., on Wednesday during the awarding of soldiers held here.

Catapang also urged the people of Mindanao to “hold on and be steadfast and never lost hope.”

General Catapang led the recognition and pinning of award to soldiers who reinforced and saved the 84 members of Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the January 25 Mamasapano encounter in a ceremony held at the 6th Infantry Division headquarters here.

“We are now fighting two fronts, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedon Fighters (BIFF),” Catapang said, adding that he had just visited Jolo to personally check the situation in the area.

Last week, Catapang ordered an all-out offensive against the BIFF.

The AFP chief of staff also assured the people of Mindanao that the AFP is in good shape and it is winning the war against the ASG and the BIFF.

“We will not only win the peace but we will also win progress and ultimately win prosperity,” he added.

The general also expressed his impression on the changes that the province of Maguindanao, Cotabato City and the rest of areas in Mindanao have undergone.

He said that as a young officer before he was already assigned in these areas in Mindanao and in the span of time had observed the developments that various communities attained in the past years.

"We are in the final stage of winning the peace and this is the final chance to win the peace in Mindanao,” he pointed out.

Catapang also hit those who said that peace in Mindanao cannot be attained, saying that: “Maraming nagsasabi na di na matutuloy pero huwag ninyo silang paniwalaan. Huwag kayo mawalan ng pag-asa. We will turn this around. All of us will have better days to come.”

During the awarding ceremony, Catapang pinned gold cross medals to 5 soldiers for their gallantry in providing support, reinforcement and rescue of SAF-PNP members during the Mamasapano encounter.

Two more soldiers received bronze cross medals and an army sergeant was promoted to a rank of staff sergeant for their crucial roles in the conduct of support to the operations of SAF-PNP.
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