PILl, Camarines Sur — Some 40 hectares of land have been allocated by the provincial government to the Army unit posted here which will serve as the base camp once the local Army brigade has been increased into full division in size.
A memorandum of agreement has been entered into by Camarines Sur Gov. Luis R. Villafuerte and Lt. Gen. Gregono Camiling, commanding general of the Army, on January 17.
The 40 hectares of land that will serve as the base camp for the 9th Infantry Brigade (Separate) in this town once the Army brigade is expanded to an Army division this year.
"This allocation of land to the (Army) is still subject to review and approval by President Arroyo since the provincial government’s authority
is only recommendatory," Villafuerte said.
"The President is the one who authorized the creation of this separate
Army brigade for Bicol anti-insurgency operations."
Witnessing the signing were Brig. Gen. Santiago Prejido, commanding general of the 9th IB, Maj. Serafin Raymundo, Pili Mayor Tomas Bongalonta and other military officials.
Activated on October last year, the 9th B, separated from the Tanay-based Army 2nd Infantry Division, has in its mission to destroy the communist insurgency in the Bicol region.
However, the planned conversion from brigade into division size early this year was temporarily delayed after the Army’s higher command has failed to lobby hard in Congress for adequate funding.
"We will do the conversion into division size very slowly, since we have
to source out costs for infrastructure and additional manpower," Camiling
According to Camiling, infrastructure for the base camp and site would amount to P85 million, but with the assistance coming from the provincial government regarding the base site, the expenses would lower down. "It’s good Governor Villafuerte has initiated the provision of land that will serve as site for the base camp," Camiling said.
Villafuerte said the future Army camp must be a sustainable community that must have its food production and housing areas.
"On the economic side, the camp will serve as ready market for agricultural products and goods sold by local farmers and retailers," Villafuerte said. "The camp will be a start of the consumer base in the local town’s economy."