Davao: Army declares Davao City ‘insurgency-free’

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Davao City –  After years of fighting the communist insurgency, the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry “Agila” Division (10ID) said it has cleared this city of the presence of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

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During Thursday’s gathering here of former rebels who used to operate in the city, Maj. Gen. Nolasco Mempin, 10ID commander, said government troops managed to beat President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadline to make Davao City “insurgency-free.”

“The army can finally move forward to doing more activities that promote patriotism and nation-building instead of fighting local wars. I am very glad to share this momentous victory, we achieved to clear the city of insurgencies ahead of the target deadline of the President,” Mempin said.

Dismantled

The Army-hosted event gathered former NPA combatants from the Sub-Regional Committee 5 (SRC 5), which was considered the most active NPA unit in the country before being dismantled by government forces.

Mempin lauded the former NPA fighters for their decision to give up arms and start a new life in mainstream society.

He recalled that in 2016, the NPA’s SRC5 had two active Guerilla Fronts and three Pulang Bagani Command operating in most of the Davao Region.

The Philippine Army’s implementation of Executive Order 70, which institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach in addressing the insurgency problem, Mempin said the NPA units began disintegrating, leading to the dissolution of the regional rebel apparatus in the Davao Region.

He said he was elated to see the city’s ecotourism take off with the dismantling of local communist armed groups.

“As we continue to pursue our quest in attaining our vision of becoming a world-class army that is a source of national pride in 2028, we hope that you extend the same support and guidance that you have so generously shared as we also pursue our mission of ending the local communist insurgency in Southern Mindanao before the term of President Duterte ends,” he said.

Preserve life, prevent atrocities

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., the former 10ID commander who flew from his current post in Northern Luzon to celebrate with the 10ID, welcomed the NPA surrenderers to the fold of the law.

“The greatest victory that we have is we are able to preserve lives. We were able to prevent further atrocities, further pain, especially to our guests (members of the SRC5), thank you for your decision to surrender. I am happy that I was able to experience this moment during my career to witness the fall of insurgencies,” Torres said.

He also assured that with the proper treatment given to the surrenderers, the mass surrender of NPA rebels is not only happening in Davao City.

“It’s not only a trend here, it is happening nationwide. You can be assured that the commitment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue. We now have a government that really and truly cares, it is no longer necessary to bear arms against the government,” Torres said.

Meanwhile, Acting City Mayor Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte thanked the Philippine Army and the former rebels.

“We salute the force, the Philippine Army, for a job well done. And we thank the former members of the SRC5 for surrendering to this government. I want to tell you that the moment you have surrendered, you are already forgiven. You are welcome to restart your life here in Davao City,” Duterte said.

He also announced that he wants to discuss with the City Council a policy measure that will ensure that former rebels are not discriminated against in the city as they seek livelihood or employment.

The Communist Party of the Philippines – NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (Christine Cudis)

(Source: Philippine News Agency)

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