THE military has declared the province of Bukidnon as conflict-manageable and ready for further development (CMRFD) on Tuesday, August 7, citing a significant reduction of attacks by the New People's Army (NPA).
The declaration was done through a joint signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the local government unit of Bukidnon headed by Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr, and Brigadier General Eric Vinoya, Commander of 403RD Infantry Brigade.
"It was agreed upon by both parties and the members of the Peace and Order Council of Bukidnon as indicated by the significant reduction of CPP-NPA terrorist attacks against civilians and civilian properties that include vital economic installations and government infrastructure projects," the military said.
The signing of the MOA by the provincial government and the Philippine Army unit in the area "symbolizes that the Bukidnon government recognizes the effort of the 403Bde that led to the significant decrease of NPA terroristic activities from 2017 to the 1st Semester of 2018.”
Present during the MOA Signing were Brigadier General Cristobal Zaragoza, Assistant Division Commander for Operations of 4th Infantry Division (4ID); Brigadier General Antonio Rosario Jr, Deputy Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP and Police Senior Superintendent Benedicto Pintor, Provincial Director of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office.
Also, the Provincial Board members of Bukidnon graced the event to witness the signing of the MOA.
In his message, Governor Zubiri mentioned that the NA force in Bukidnon has weakened, pointing to the rising number of NPA surrenderees and the significant reduction of NPA-initiated atrocities.
“Daghan na nagsurrender sa ilaha. Ug sa pipila na ka bulan karon, duna ba moy nadungog nga naay giambush ang NPA? Wala (Many have surrendered already from their (NPA) ranks. And for many months now, we have not heard of any NPA ambuscades)," Zubiri said.
For his part, Brigadier General Vinoya considered the declaration "momentous", and thanked the Local Government of Bukidnon for its unwavering support to the peace and development initiatives of the 403rd Infantry Brigade in the province.
“The declaration of Bukidnon as Conflict-Manageable and Ready for Further Development is a very important milestone in our journey towards peace, progress and prosperity for the province and its people," General Vinoya said.
For his part, Major General Ronald Villanueva, commander of the army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said the declaration will pave the way for socio-economic and developmental activities in the province.
"There will be more projects that are culture sensitive for the people and will also attract tourists to confidently visit this province. With this MOA signing, 4ID gains more confidence in doing our mandate of protecting the people and the community with the kind of support the LGU of Bukidnon has given to us," Villanueva said.
If an area is declared as conflict-manageable and ready for further development, this means that civilians take responsibility in issues like peace, security, and development; the area is conducive for business and investments to flourish; there is effective control of armed violence; the people are effectively working, functioning, and operational; the local government and PNP effectively addressing the local criminality problem; and the security situation paves the way of the entry of investors and development projects.