Ecozone, PNP-SAF sign land use deal PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 11:13

By ALBI A. MARQUEZ

In a well-attended ceremony on Monday. August 17, Zamboanga Ecozone and Freeport Authority and the Philippine National Police Special Action Force or PNP-SAF signed a Deed of Usufruct for the establishment of a permanent PNP-SAF Complex inside the Zone’s 2nd Industrial Park.

The day started with the joint flag raising ceremonies of the officers and staff of ZamboEcozone and Freeport Authority and the members of the 5th Special Action Battalion (SAB).

The two-hectare PNP-SAF complex will house a base headquarter for the 5th SAB and the 55th Special Action Company (SAC) of the PNP-SAF, and will be constructed as a conducive venue for training, quartering, and other PNP-SAF related activities, as well as for other purposes necessary and/or incidental thereto which will enhance efficiency and productivity of the Battalion deployment therein. It is worthy to note that significant members of the “SAF 44” are from the 5th SAB of PNP-SAF.

Chairperson and Administrator Christopher Lawrence S. Arnuco signed for and in behalf of the Authority and was attended by ZamboEcozne Directors Congressman Celso L. Lobregat and Mr. Jose J. Suan. PNP-SAF Police Director Moro Virgilio Lazo penned for the 5th SAB. UnderSecretary Peter Erving C. Corvera of the Department of Interior and Local Government, for Public Safety, represented DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas IIand witnessed the event. Chief Supt. Miguel C. Antonio Jr., of the Police Regional Office IX was also in attendance.

Led by City Councilor and President of the Liga ng Mga Barangay, Jerry E. Perez, several barangay chairpersons from both Districts, with their respective kagawads, attended the affair.

The signing ceremony was held at the ZamboEcozone Conference Hall, ZFA Admin Bldg., San Ramon, Zamboanga City.

The history of the 55th PNP-SAF started on January 9, 2010, when the 5th Special Action Battalion of PNP-SAF was activated by then PNP Chief PDG Jesus A.Verzosa, with its headquarters located at Camp Gen. Arturo T.Enrile, Malagutay.

It had five companies: two based in Sulu, two in Basilan, and one Counter Terrorist Company that was temporarily housed in the sameBattalion Headquarters. The unit became fully operational in December 2010 when ninety-six graduates from the SAF Commando Coursejoined the unit.

From the time of its activation, the Headquarters of the 5th SAB and its Counter Terrorist Company were based in Camp Enrile, until it received a communique’ on July 27, 2013, from Acting Commander, 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army, directing them to vacate the facility without providing any relocation site.

On that night, despite the heavy rains, the personnel of the 5thSAB vacated the facility and temporally transferred to the 5th Air Station facility, located at Gen. Aviation Area, Zamboanga International Airport, which at that time was the only viable option. The facility a small office room, one comfort room, but was barely able to accommodate two dozen troopers, which forcedthe rest of the Battalion to hang their jungle hammocksnear and around the open area as temporary shelters, while others were forced to rent nearby accommodations.

This prompted the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to offer its old ATO Radar Station facility located at Mercedes, but barely a week after transferring to Mercedes, the Zamboanga Siege happened. It was only on October 30, 2013, after the declaration that the siege was over, that the SAF Battalion was able to occupy the unbefitting ATO facility.

Police Chief Insp. Reynaldo E. Ariño, Commanding Officer of the 5th SAB, PNP-SAF, said, “The men and women of 5th SAB were always hoping and praying that the proposed SAF facility in the ZamboEcozone would come to reality”, it would boost the troops morale and would undoubtedly make us finally feel that we have a home…a place for us to continue to hone our skills and improve our services to our countrymen, which would ensure that every endeavour we perform will mean a victory towards the realization of the unit’s goals”.

The presence of a battalion force of the PNP-SAF in the above-mentioned complex will advance the interest of peace in Zamboanga City, particularly the ZamboEcozone, and will herald accelerated progress and development in the region.