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Arroyo tells Verzosa: Help end Mindanao conflict

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:02:00 09/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave marching orders to the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Deputy Director General Jesus Verzosa, to help end the four-decade-old armed conflict in the south.

Arroyo asked the 53-year-old Verzosa to harness his “rich experience,” having been assigned to “practically every hotspot” in the country, including the southern provinces of Maguindanao and Basilan.

Verzosa took over from Director General Avelino Razon Jr. as chief of the 135,000-strong PNP in ceremonies at Camp Crame general headquarters on Saturday.

“His [Verzosa’s] experience is valuable to what we are seeking to do today, that is, we are committed to everything possible to bring lasting peace to Mindanao and end 40 years of fighting that has killed more than 120,000 people,” Arroyo said in a speech during the
turnover rites.

“We will pursue the peace process in Mindanao. We must end the armed rebellion through disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation and the very strong role of the PNP is expected in making sure that Mindanao remains peaceful,” she said.

Troops are running after Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels led by commanders Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdurahman Macapaar, and Pangalian, who led attacks on civilian communities in the provinces of North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte in August.

Arroyo also praised the outgoing PNP chief for working to reduce street crimes by bringing more policemen or “Mamang Pulis” and “Aleng Pulis” on the beats.

She also congratulated Razon for a “giant” 85 percent reduction in extra-judicial killings during his one-year tour of duty, as she ordered when he assumed as top cop in October 2007.

“[Curbing] street crimes dropped during the time of Sonny Razon. That is something the ordinary Filipino feels, if his street is more crime-free than ever before,” Arroyo said.

As Razon himself pointed out during his valedictory address, Arroyo said that the “three big bangs” of explosions in the Glorietta mall in Makati City and the Batasan Complex in Quezon City, and the Manila Peninsula siege, tested Razon’s mettle in the first three months of his term.

“With those trials, the public very quickly got to know this loyal, perceptive and determined police officer, the unflappable man in uniform who won the public’s trust in him and in the PNP,” she said.

Arroyo did not announce in her speech if Razon, the sixth PNP chief under her administration, would be given a government post. All of Razon’s five immediate predecessors are in government.

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Written by joelguinto

SatUTC2008-09-27T08:06:41+00:00UTC09bUTCSat, 27 Sep 2008 08:06:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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