NPA-free barangays in Mimaropa will receive development projects–NTF-ELCAC


The national government, through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), announced on Wednesday that it has crushed communist guerillas in Region 4B, paving the way for multi-million-peso projects to thousands of barangays “liberated” from influence and threat of the New People’s Army (NPA).

National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr. made announcement, as Malacañang bared that President Duterte, also chairman of the NTF-ELCAC, has scheduled a visit to Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (Mimaropa) region on Thursday (today) to personally check the projects implemented under Palace and Congress-approved Barangay Development Program (BDP).

For next year, additional 54 barangays from Mimaropa will be included in the BDP list or a total of 1,406 barangays nationwide with a proposed budget of P28.1 billion. This year’s BDP include 822 barangays.

According to Esperon, Region 4B or Mimaropa’s peace and security was effectively managed through the joint efforts of the security forces and civilian agencies.

“I am proud to note that from 2020 to 2021, two guerilla fronts have been significantly weakened while one has been dismantled,” Esperon said.

Of the 822 barangay recipients of BDP, Esperon said 25 are found in Mimaropa wherein a total of 109 projects worth P500 million are now in the implementation stage.

Esperon said the administration has started the sustainable agriculture and livelihood programs in Mimaropa such as Project Save and Project Sagip, which assisted local farming communities for their sustenance.

“Livelihood assistance were likewise provided to a total of 224 regular New People’s Army surrenderers who have returned to the folds of the law from 2020 to 2021,” Esperon added.

Under this flagship project, each barangay, cleared from NPA influence and threat, will be granted with P20 million worth of projects such as farm-to-market roads; school building, water sanitation facility; heath centers and livelihood projects.                             

Esperon also said that local executives, including governors and mayors from Region 4B have expressed full support to the BDP.

“As a former mayor himself, and as a strong proponent of local government development, President Duterte has pushed for several development initiatives which promote inclusivity and sustainability. These undertakings, particularly aimed at poverty alleviation, addressing basic human needs and rural progress, were conceptualized to address the root causes and issues being exploited by the communist terrorist group [CTG] for its recruitment,” Esperon said.

Expected to join the President in his visit to Mimaropa are Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez; Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron, representing the host local government unit; Cabinet members; lawmakers; and senior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

The military’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and the PNP formally declared the clearing of 12 barangays and three New People’s Army-allied organizations in Mountain Province from the influence of communist rebels through a document signed on Tuesday.

The villages were identified as Dalican, Guina-ang and Mainit of Bontoc; Aguid, Fedilisan, Madongo, Bangaan, Pide and Angkileng of Sagada; Balintaugan, Bagnen Proper and Bagnen Oriente of Bauko.

The 12 barangays were among the areas declared as having been cleared from insurgency during the “Area Clearing Validation Committee [ACVC]” meeting jointly presided by Nolcom deputy commander Brig. Gen. Andrew Costelo and PNP deputy director for Integrated Police Operations – Northern Luzon (DIPO-NL), Major Gen. Domingo Cabillan.

The 12 villages and the three rebel-allied organizations were formerly the focused areas of Platoon William under the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (KLG) AMPIS, the communist group that operates in the areas of Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur.

Nolcom spokesman Major Israel Galorio said the clearing parameters under the AFP–PNP Joint Letter Directive 03 (Series 2020) was utilized during the evaluation and validation process prior to the declaration of the villages as insurgency-free.

PNP DIPO-NL Director Lt. Gen. Marni Marcos Jr. credited the accomplishment to “the support and synergistic collaboration of the AFP and PNP.”

On the other hand, Nolcom commander Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. commended the troops who were involved in the clearing efforts.

“This is a historic event, let me congratulate our troops, particularly Joint Task Force [JTF] Tala for their unyielding efforts to protect the well-being of our people in Mountain Province and free them from the menace of the communist terrorists,” Burgos said.

“Our task of defeating the communist terrorists was made easy with our continuous collaboration and active coordination. Several initiatives from JTF Tala and JTF Kaugnay were successful because of the active support and complementary efforts of our PNP counterparts,” he added.

Burgos said the rebels are  “losing the support of the community” as manifested by the series of setbacks ranging from the “neutralization of their ranking leaders, mass surrender from their ranks, and mass withdrawal of support from their exploited supporters resulting to the irreversible collapse of the various NPA fronts in our area of responsibility.”

The Nolcom have dismantled three guerrilla fronts in Northern and Central Luzon. These are the KLG Southern Ilocos Sur, KLG Quirino- Nueva Vizcaya and KLG–Sierra Madre. Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz and Rene Acosta

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