DAVAO CITY -- Mayor Sara Duterte said she is withdrawing the City Government's support to the Army's 1003rd Infantry Brigade (IB) starting August this year.

This developed after Duterte expressed her disagreement to the Army's counter insurgency measures for the city as contained in the brigade's Internal Security Operations (ISO) submitted by brigade commander General Eduardo del Rosario on July 5.

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"The regular reports of armed confrontations between the military and the NPA [New People's Army], which are most likely to be offshoots of your ISO is projecting disorder in the city and this type of approach to the insurgency problem is contrary to what I believe in," Duterte said in her letter del Rosario, which she disclosed Monday after a press conference.

Duterte affirmed that the continual combat operations against the NPA are futile and counterproductive for all stakeholders. "I want you to review your current Counter Insurgency Strategy which is combat heavy," Duterte said in her letter.

“The lives and properties of soldiers, lumads, NPA, civilians, LGU [local government units] are wasted on a cat and mouse game, which has become a protracted war between and among Filipinos," Duterte said.

"As a point for you to ponder, I would rather invest in a comprehensive rebel returnee program, lumad literacy empowerment, or other developmental projects that have effective and lasting results for the society and which would also address the general grievance of the members of the NPA. In view of the foregoing, beginning next month I shall reject your request for support to the 1003rd operations as stated in your letter," Duterte added.

Peace and Order

Duterte said she does not expect her decision to withdraw operational support to the 1003rd IB would affect the city's peace and order.

"Ang kanang trabaho nila, mulihok na ilahang internal security plans with or without the support of the City Government. Dili na sila muhunong ug trabaho dinha kung wala na silay supporta sa atoa [Their ISP job shouldn't be affected by the support of the City Government. It shouldn't be that their job would stop if they do not get support from us]," Duterte told the local media.

Duterte refused to divulge the details of the ISO.

“I'd rather not say the details of the ISO and the support of the City Government because that's a confidential matter; but in looking at their ISO, I don't think this is the solution to our insurgency [problem]," Duterte said.

The 1003rd IB has troops in the far flung districts of Toril, Calinan, Marilog, and Paquibato, where three fronts with around 120 armed rebels of the NPA, according to del Rosario, are stationed.

Duterte also clarified that withdrawing the support has nothing to do with complaints from the barangays.

"As city mayor I am entrusted to hold the money of the city and use it according to the plans and programs of the City Government. This is part of my duty to review the current programs of the City Government. It's not just the city's peace and order program that we review, it's everything that we are assessing," Duterte said.

Additional battalion

Meanwhile, del Rosario said in an interview that Duterte has this perspective of withdrawing the support with the influx of new battalion in the city.

"Perhaps because of the additional battalions and we have encounters recently. Meron tayong ginagawa against the NPA rebels. We want Davao City to become really peaceful and one way is to drive away the NPA rebels," del Rosario said.

Aside from the 69th IB, another battalion, 84th IB was also deployed. Davao City now has two infantry battalions operating and running after the NPA rebels, said del Rosario.

Del Rosario also said that with the withdrawal of aid, they would rely on their internal system of support.

"Actually, it was in kind; rice and canned goods, so yun lang naman ang nakukuha namin but we have our own system of support and we can live it off [Actually, it was in kind; rice and canned goods, these are what we got but we have our system of support and we can live it off]," del Rosario said.

Meanwhile, newly assigned battalion commander of the 69th IB, Lieutenant Colonel Aniano Orap-Orap, said the military will "go by President [Benigno] Aquino's orders to a peaceful counter insurgency approach."

"Matagal na naming na-realize na the way to go against insurgency is not only through arms but through nation building, which is what the President wants and we will go by that, and we do that by protecting development in far flung areas and helping communities through delivering services," Orap-Orap said.

Alternative bid

Duterte said she suggested to del Rosario to become one of the participants of the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC).

"The City Peace and Order Council is a venue where structured discussions of issues can be made and I would appreciate your participation in the meetings. I would like to think that there must be another or several other perspectives in solving this plethora of problems that may be adopted by the LGU, which do not involve supporting combat operations," the mayor stated in her letter addressed to del Rosario.

Duterte also emphasized that she would give her support to the Task Force Davao (TFD).

"While we are withdrawing our operational support for the 1003rd IB, I am giving my 101 percent support to the counter terrorism plans of the Task Force Davao," Duterte said. (Jade C. Zaldivar of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)