The strong community support and cooperation of the local government executives and the military resulted in the declining number of communist rebels in Davao Oriental.
Speaking on Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press briefing held at the Royal Mandaya hotel, Lt. Col. Miguel Ramon, the commander of 28th Infantry Battalion under 701st Infantry Brigade, said, “It is very important that our community would stand against insurgency and NPA.”
He said the government is always ready to provide security but the communities also have to do their part to achieve peace in the hinterlands. However, the local government units should also make their presence felt, especially in isolated areas.
“It (peace) can only happen if the local government units and agencies are there to provide the services so that there would be no other groups that would attempt to replace the existing government,” he added.
Lastly, the military must sustain its efforts to go after the communist guerrillas, with the help of the village watchmen.
“All of these form a network that helps to rally against the armed threat, including the community support programs (CSP), wherein we have been conducting information campaigns in sitios and services that we have been facilitating to reach out to the far-flung communities,” he said.
For now, the battalion commander said the insurgency in Davao del Oriental is manageable but they can’t just dismiss the threat of the communist rebels, especially in the hinterlands of the second district.
He said that in July, they noticed declining incidents of atrocities and reports of armed groups. “But we’re still on high alert and intensifying efforts to clear the remaining areas of Davao Oriental,” he said.
“So far we have been continuously conducting community support operations, focused military operations, and other efforts to totally attain peace in the areas of Davao Oriental,” he added.
The 28th IB is operating in the second district of Davao Oriental. The Section Committee 18 and Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 6 of the New People’s Army (NPA) are also operating in the said area.
Meanwhile, the SeCom 15 and PBC 8 are operating in the first district under the 67th Infantry Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado.
But Ramon said the two commands have merged, which speaks volumes about how the population of the Red fighters has diminished in recent years. For instance, he said the average force of a section committee is around 15 fighters while a PBC has around 20 to 25 fighters.
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