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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division said it gained significant progress in its peace campaign in the South due to huge public support to the government’s efforts in ending insurgency in the troubled region.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, the division commander, said security forces had “neutralized” over 1,100 communist rebels during the first six months of the year. He said this number included 1,062 members of the New People’s Army who surrendered to the fold of the law. More than 2 dozen rebels were also killed in clashes and 17 others captured.

He said their relentless and focused security operations resulted in the significant reduction of the group’s terror threats. Government troops have captured 67 assorted firearms during encounters, while former rebels handed over 168 firearms of various calibers during the same period.

The last two quarters, he said, also saw a sharp increase in the number of surrenderees in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) with 359 regular members of the Milisya ng Bayan and their underground mass organizations and supporters yielded to various military units and in Region 13 (Caraga) had 763 surrenders during the period.

“This is due to the convergence of efforts of stakeholders backed with the enhanced implementation of community support programs, especially in poor, marginalized, conflict-affected and conflict vulnerable communities. The program effectively bridged residents of these areas to the local government agencies resulting in enhanced delivery of basic services to the people,” Gacal said.

“Our army units across the region have deployed community support teams which help identify primary issues affecting communities and facilitate for its immediate resolution with concerned government agencies,” he added.

Gacal said that the massive surrenders of rebels can be attributed to the serious implementation of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which offers livelihood and financial assistance to all rebels who opted to abandon the armed struggle and surrender peacefully to the government.

He said additional remuneration is given to a former rebel who surrenders with a firearm. Nearly 1000 surrenderees have been enrolled in the ECLIP.

The program has so far distributed P10 million worth of assistance to 209 beneficiaries, according to Gacal. Gacal said efforts to rid communities of communist influence are rapidly paying off as local government officials and community leaders, including tribal chieftains, expressed their full support to the government’s campaign by denouncing, severing all forms of association, and withdrawing any kind of support to the NPA.

“The significant achievements of the division are also attributed to the strengthened stakeholder’s support and we encourage all local governments to continue with same vigor and enthusiasm, especially in the institutionalization and operationalization of EO 70. The fight against insurgency is a shared responsibility and we owe it to the next generation to work together,” he said.

The EO 70 refers to the Executive Order 70 or the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. “We are seeing massive convergence of efforts among national government agencies, government and non-government organizations, civil society, religious, academe and private sectors in achieving our common aspiration that is to fully achieve peace and sustain development. We all want to create conflict resilient communities and put an end to the armed conflict which has plundered our country for five decades,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)


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