Bacolod City – After five years of implementing Executive Order 70, which institutionalized the Whole Nation Approach in addressing the root causes of the insurgency problem in Western and Central Visayas regions, the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division reported remarkable achievements in meeting the objectives of the executive order, in tandem with other government agencies.
In the fifth year of EO 70, the 3ID’s vigorous implementation of EO 70 in Western and Central Visayas has devastated the human and armed capabilities of the New People’s Army, leading to the dismantling of its six Guerilla Fronts (GFs) and the weakening of the remaining three GFs.
In a statement issued by Lt. Col. J Jay Javines, 3rd Infantry Division Civil Military Operations chief, said the NPA in the two regions, from a total workforce of 330 in 2018, now only have 149 remaining members, while their firepower has significantly dwindled to 171 from 456 in the same year.
In addressing the root causes of the insurgency, Javines reported the concerted efforts of the Community Support Program (CSP) teams of the 3ID, LGUs, government agencies, and stakeholders have assisted in clearing conflict-affected villages.
Their efforts have paved the way for providing 272 formerly insurgency-ridden barangays in Western and Central Visayas with NTF-ELCAC Barangay Development Program (BDP) projects that offer long-term solutions to the socio-economic problems of the residents, with more than P3 billion worth of projects, such as farm-to-market roads, electrification projects, school buildings, health initiatives, drainage and potable water systems, assistance to needy individuals, and support for local farmers with equipment and inputs.
EO 70 aims to address the root causes of insurgency and put an end to the decades-long armed struggle. It also seeks to create a conducive environment for peace and development, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to achieve lasting results.
Javines further said that the 3ID’s efforts to address the root causes of the insurgency were complemented by its relentless combat military operations aimed at weakening the capabilities of CPP-NPA terrorists and hindering their ability to pursue armed struggle.
This strategy, he explained, puts the NPA in a situation where their only option to avoid death is to yield and return to the folds of the government.
From January 2019 to date, 3ID launched a total of 284 armed engagements, making substantial strides towards ending the local communist armed conflict in the two Visayas regions, both in the combat and non-combat approaches, supported by increased inter-agency activities, convergence of efforts, and dynamic community participation.
This resulted in the neutralization of 612 leaders and members of the CPP-NPA and surrender of 1,217 members of Militia ng Bayan/Yunit Militia. Among the neutralized regular NPAs, 151 had been killed in encounters, 296 surrendered, and 165 captured and apprehended.
In the same period, a total of 781 firearms were seized.
With the enthusiasm of the 3ID to assist former NPA members in starting a new and peaceful life, especially those who voluntarily surrendered to the folds of the law, Javines reported that 982 former rebels received benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which include immediate and livelihood assistance, firearms remuneration, and reintegration aid.
The relentless inter-agency collaborations, engagements with LGUs, and community awareness undertakings of the 3ID also led to the declaration of the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non-grata by seven provinces, 31 cities, 228 municipalities, and 4,274 barangays in regions 6 and 7, he added. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star, photo courtesy of The Daily Guardian)