Reg’l Peace and Order Council declares Davao Region 'insurgency-free'

Photo from 10thID
Photo from 10thID

AFTER years of battling with the insurgents, the Regional Peace and Order Council Davao Region (RPOC Davao) officially declared Davao Region as insurgency free on October 12, 2022.

RPOC signed the declaration of Davao Region as an insurgency-free region after years of battling the 15 Guerilla Fronts (GFs) and six Pulang Bagani Command/Company (PBCs) that affected 190 barangays in the region.

“The journey has not been easy for all of us, but all sacrifices and efforts have not gone to waste. May all our humble achievements and sacrifices serve as an inspiration to all Dabawenyos and for them to preserve and nurture this hard-earned gain by denying the rebels a chance to return to their communities,” LtCol. Victorino M. Siño, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations 10 Infantry Division (10th ID), said during the RPOC Davao Meeting on October 12, 2022.

The 10th ID reported that they have a total of 437 encounters from 2016 to 2022; about 1,597 firearms (FAs) gained; 1,749 communist terrorist groups (CTGs) killed, surrendered, and captured; 9,985 Underground Mass Organizations (UGMO) members coopted, Milisyang Bayan (MB), Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPLS) and Left Leaning Organizations (LLO) members surrendered; 401 barangays have been cleared from insurgency.

The first province or city to declare insurgency free in the region is Davao City on March 24, 2022, followed by Davao del Norte on June 13, 2022, Davao Occidental on August 18, 2022, Davao de Oro on June 22, 2022, Davao del Sur on July 1, 2022, and the last province to declare is Davao Oriental on September 19, 2022.

According to incoming President of the RPOC Davao, Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib, to become an insurgency-free region means to be safe from the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People's Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“Wala na pong impluwensya sa CPP-NPA, kaya tinatawag na insurgency-free dahil yong insurgency sila yong nagdadala ng gulo sa ating buong rehiyon (There’s no longer an influence of the CPP-NPA that’s why we called it insurgency free because they are the one who brought chaos in the entire region),” Jubahib said.

He said to be declared insurgency free is a big step to gain the trust of the investors and the community.

“Dahil magkakaroon po ng tiwala, unang una ang ating mga local investors para palakihin nila ang kanilang negosyo, then mag-invest sila sa mga malalayong lugar dahil nasa isip na nila na yong kanilang investment ay safe na po, wala ng magsunog, wala ng extortion wala naring mag-kidnap ng mga negosyante (We will be able to get more investors locally, where they can extend their business in some parts especially in the far-flung areas),” Jubahib said.

Jubahib said it will be easier to invite foreign investors, which could provide more jobs that could help address the unemployment in the region.

“Kasi ang unemployment, ito po yong based ng recruitment ng kabila [kalaban], kaya ang movement nila, pahirapin yong mga tao para mas madaling ma-recruit (The enemies are using unemployment to recruit people and join their plights),” Jubahib said.

He said the government will be able to help the people avoid being recruited by giving them opportunities such as work, education, and food.

Jubahib said that aside from the implementation of the National Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Barangay Development Program (BDP), the community also helped free the region from insurgents.

“Kahit anong sikap ng mga nasa gobyerno, sikap ng ating Presidente, kung hindi mag-cooperate yong ating bayan, useless po itong lahat na ating mga plano o ating passion na magkaroon ng tunay na kapayapaan, tulong-tulong tayo para sa maginhawang buhay ng buong sambayanang Pilipino (No matter how good our government, our President, if the people will not cooperate, everything will be useless, we need to cooperate so achieve peace and order and to have a better life),” Jubahib said.

Sustaining peace

Now that Davao Region is officially declared an insurgency-free region, the RPOC Davao members laid out their plans to sustain this.

Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) Mayor Al David Uy said they aim to sustain the number of their tourist police to protect their city.

“Yong ibang mga personahi ng Coast Guard at Task Force Samal may mga detachment rin sa eastern side ng Samal since wala tayong visibility don sa area na yon and we put up radio repeaters kasi marami ring dead spots yong Samal (We have deployed personnel from the Coast Guard at Task Force Samal to the eastern side of Samal since we don’t have visibility in that area. We also put radio repeaters since we have dead spots in Samal)” Uy said.

However, he said hopefully, the government will still continue supporting the NTF-ELCAC. He said instead of cutting the budget, it should have more budget to sustain the program.

Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat said they want to keep the visibility of the army in their area to secure their tourists.

“We still need the Philippine Army around to assure our tourists and investors coming in... the locals also feel that may matatakbuhan rin yong mga tao unlike before natatakbuhan nila yong mga kalaban (they can feel that they can ask help anytime to them unlike before that they ran into the enemies),” Rabat said.

Mayor Maria Theresa Timbol of the Municipality of Kapalong also echoed the same sentiments, especially since the affected areas are where Indigenous People live.

“Ang daming pwede pang pwedeng gawin pero we lack the funds, kailangan namin ang support ng province and the national government, sana tuloy-tuloy si EO 70 the whole of the nation approach para we can sustain the declaration of this insurgency free (We lack funds so we hope that the province and the national government will continue to support us to sustain insurgency-free status),” Timbol said. KSD


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