TASK FORCE. Brig. Gen. Jesus Cambay Jr., Police Regional Office-9 director, hands over a paddle to Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Victor Yu during the launching of the Task Force Pink Panther on Monday (Aug. 10, 2020) in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur. The task force aims to boost security in 'risk areas' and address threat groups in the region. (Photo courtesy of the Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Press Bureau)

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur – The Police Regional Office (PRO-9) has activated "Task Force Pink Panther" to boost security in "risk areas" and address threat groups in the region.

Brig. Gen. Jesus Cambay Jr., PRO-9 director, who led the activation of the task force Monday, said the unit will consist of five task groups to secure the region’s coastlines.

In an interview Tuesday, Cambay said the task force will consist of policemen, soldiers, and personnel from other line agencies, especially those engaged in law enforcement, like the coast guard, and maritime police.

Cambay said one of the groups is the Task Group Zamboanga del Sur, which will focus on addressing the specific security and community concerns in this province through effective coordinating, synergizing, and controlling efforts with the local government units and other stakeholders.

The province has experienced six kidnappings in recent years, and crime groups often use bodies of water as entry and exit routes in their illegal activities, including extortion and piracy.

Cambay said the task force will be equipped with patrol boats to guard the coastlines of this province.

“This will address the problem of kidnappings and prevent the movements of the criminal groups like the Ansang Group, which is operating in the coastal areas of the Zamboanga del Sur, including extortion and piracy,” Cambay added.

During the launching, an initial 13 patrol boats owned by the 13 coastal towns of this province were presented. Additional patrol boats will be provided by the provincial government.

Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan, 1st Infantry Division assistant commander, also recommended the deployment of additional Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA) on the coastline of this province as augmentation forces.

Gaerlan said that it will be more practical to deploy SCAA instead of regular troops, who can be pulled out once the unit is needed most in other areas.

Gov. Victor Yu welcomed the activation of the task group to guard the coastal areas of this province that are vulnerable to smuggling, piracy, and kidnapping.

“Peaceful coastlines will also welcome opportunities for a better economy as it will be a potential for the livelihood of the Zambosurians.” Yu said.

The governor also supported the recommendation to deploy additional SCAA forces in the coastlines for added security and to sustain the program.

He admitted on the challenge of sustaining the program, especially on the maintenance of the patrol boats.

However, he is optimistic that the program can be sustained with the support of all the local officials in this province. (PNA)