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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 22, 2011
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New 303rd IB chief
vows zero HR violations

BY GILBERT BAYORAN

CAMP MAJOR NELSON GERONA, Murcia – Col. Oscar Lactao, newly-designated commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, yesterday committed to “zero” human rights violations among soldiers under his command.

Citing the Army core values of “serving the people, securing the land”, Lactao said they exist to protect the people, and not to hurt them.

The Commission on Human Rights had earlier reported that the human rights record of the Philippine Army in Negros continues to improve as shown by its zero “human rights violations” in the past six months, compared to previous years.

The CHR attributed this to the implementation of the Oplan Bayanihan campaign plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that calls for strict adherence to human rights and the International Humanitarian Law from its members.

Lactao, in his acceptance speech at the turnover rites of the 303rd Infantry Brigade command, also issued a commitment to Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, 3rd Infantry Division commander, to enforce the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan to “win the peace” in Negros Occidental.

Recognizing the important role of local government officials in addressing  more than 40 years of insurgency, Lactao also vowed to serve the Negrenses to the best of his abilities by assisting them in the promotion and maintenance of peace, also in partnership with other government agencies and stakeholders in the peace and development campaign.

Lactao also called on various groups and individuals espousing violence, to heed the call of President Benigno Aquino III and other government leaders, including Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., to “rethink their methods”, and “give peace a chance.”

“The use of unlawful violence has no place in a civilized society,” he said.

Lactao yesterday replaced Col. Francisco Patrimonio, who was designated Tuesday as the new commanding officer of the 302nd Infantry Brigade in Negros Oriental.

Patrimonio who had served as deputy commander and later as commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade for almost four years, in his farewell speech, expressed his gratitude for the support of local government officials, non-government organizations, Philippine National Police, Civil Military Advisory Group-Negros, and the media.

Patrimonio said the atrocities perpetrated by lawless elements in the past two months are but criminal attempts to make them appear strong.

He  appealed for the NPA to spare the innocent and defenseless in their attempt for “financial gain”.*GPB

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