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Sunday, April 21, 2024

We Will End Insurgency: Eastern Mindanao Military Chief Says

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Davao City –   “Tatapusin namin ang (We will end the) insurgency before the President steps down, says Eastern Mindanao commander, Major General Jose Faustino Jr during the latest rites to present the surrender of New Peoples Army (NPA) Guerilla Front 33 command.

“I am very optimistic that insurgency problem dito sa (here in) Region 11 ay matatapos bago matapos ang term ng ating mahal na Pangulo (will end before the term of our dear President shall end).

He cited the recent massive turnaround of armed rebels and their mass-base supporters from the NPA movement as a manifestation of effective whole of nation approach to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) as targeted by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his Executive Order No. 70.

The Community Support Program (CSP) implementation of the Philippine Army with support of Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro local governments, and the joint on-ground operation of 25th and 60th infantry battalions (under 1001st Infantry Brigade) pushed the leaders and members of GF 33 to yield to government forces.

A total of 26 GF-33 members with leaders have been neutralized and 15 high powered firearms have been recovered by government forces from their keep. In his report, 1001st Inf. Bde. commander Lt. Luis Rex Bergante said GF-33 was created in the year 2000 in Brgy. Cabidianan , New Corella in Davao del Norte.

The front operation used to cover the municipalities of New Corella, Asuncion and San Isidro in Davao del Norte; and the municipalities of Monkayo, Montevista, Nabunturan, Mawab and Laak in Davao de Oro. With the entire leadership and membership of GF-33 now with the Philippine government, it is expected that the weakened New Peoples Army (NPA) force be eventually disintegrated.

“Ang lahat ay nagtulong-tulong para ma solve. Pasalamat tayo sa Pangulo, na na-conceptualize ang EO 70; ang ganitong programa na syang tumatarget sa ugat ng problema,” Faustino was referring to the implementation of the E.O 70 which has drawn whole of nation support. Faustino has been optimistic about ending local insurgency in Davao Region in the midst of the pandemic.

In a separate interview with the provincial media practitioners in Davao del Norte sometime in September, he had already foreseen such goal as achievable citing the intense support of local chief executives, local and national line agencies and the civic sector in rolling out projects and programs to areas which used to be under the influence of the NPA and its legal fronts.

“Right now maganda ang situation dahil marami na ang nag sipag surrender na mga NPA, maraming barangay cleared natin, at natigil na rin natin ang recruitment,” he said during his visit in sitio Tibucag in September during which Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr of the Office of Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) attended the Peace Housing Project ground-breaking rites.

However, Major General Faustino pointed out the need for a united focus of all stakeholders on the bid to finally end local insurgency despite the persistence of the pandemic “We still have insurgency even with the pandemic, so kelangan talaga natin na ma-focus ito. Huwag tayong bibitaw sa bola,” he said referring to the gains of ELCAC implementation despite the pandemic. “Ituloy-tuloy natin ito (Let us push this through) even with the pandemic around.

We can do it,” he said while pointing out the edge of convergence strategy to win over rebels back to the folds of the Philippine government and into mainstream society.
(Jeanevive Duron Abangan, PIA XI)

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