Deployment of Philippine Naval Ship in Balicasag Island

By Angeline Valencia

What was just an approach to protect the marine resources in Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands now turned into a security move to screen possible spillover of conflict in Mindanao to Bohol.

During its executive committee meeting Thursday morning last week, the Provincial Development Council (PDC) discussed the proposed establishment of marine parks/sanctuaries in Balicasag        

SECURITY AT SEA. In case of a spillover of conflict in Mindanao via the sea waters of Bohol, this naval patrol boat will be at the forefront guarding the Tagbilaran-Panglao-Balicasag-Pamilacan area. Docked at the city port, the vessel will soon be strategically deployed somewhere at Balicasag Island. Foto DANNY REYES
Island in Panglao, and Pamilacan Island in Baclayon as a matter of protecting the marine resources in the area.

However, in a late night meeting Friday with officers of the Philippine Army in Bohol, Governor Erico Aumentado said that his scheduled meeting on September 1 with Philippine Navy Admiral Golez and Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) General Manager Mark Lapid in Manila may already include a "much more important subject" related to the possible spillover of conflict in Mindanao.

The discussion may then go beyond about just patrolling the seawaters of Tagbilaran to Panglao-Balicasag-Pamilacan and adjacent areas for marine resources protection, the governor said.
          
"I will be meeting with flag officer, Admiral Golez on Sept. 1 in Manila. We will finalize the naval patrol of Philippine Navy in seawaters of Tagbilaran to Panglao-Balicasag-Pamilacan- -in areas which are vulnerable. Capt. [Honorio Robert] Balanon already committed to me during the PDC meeting, that they will be patrolling the area.

Actually, at that time, when we discussed this matter, I was only thinking of protecting our marine resources in that area. But this time, I think we need to discuss much more important subject of my discussion with Admiral Golez," Aumentado shared to the officers of Philippine Army in the meeting Friday at Prawn Farm in Island City Mall, Tagbilaran City.

In the middle of the meeting, Aumentado called up through cellphone, and instructed Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) executive officer, retired Col. Raul Mendez, to prepare a contingency plan and present it during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting on August 28 in Trinidad after a civic action in the morning.

The contingency plan is in preparation on the possible return of Boholanos now based in Mindanao, in case the MILF-military conflict worsens.

"In fact, they already have the "Ilaga" there and the civilians are already asking to be allowed to arm themselves," Aumentado said as he expressed the urgency of an action to prepare against the worst scenario.

Aumentado mentioned it as just a side topic in the meeting last Friday night to finalize the arrangement with the 802nd Infantry Brigade in the implementation of the school building construction program of the provincial government and Department of Education in partnership with the soldiers.