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Army touts gains vs. NPA in Northern Mindanao, Caraga

The 4th Infantry Division has made significant gains in its anti-insurgency campaign in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions during the first semester of 2019.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, the commander of the Cagayan de Oro-based Army division, said they neutralized 1,104 members of the CPP-NPA during the first six months.

These include 1,062 surrenders, 25 killed in armed encounters, and 17 captured through the joint security and law enforcement operations.

During that span, they also seized 67 assorted firearms during encounters while former rebels handed over 168 firearms.

Influx of surrenders

The last two quarters saw a sharp increase in the number of surrenderees in the two regions.

In Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), 359 regular members of Milisya ng Bayan (People’s Militia), Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) members, and supporters have surrendered to various military units. Meanwhile, Region 13 (Caraga) had 763 surrenders during the same period.

He attributed it to the implementation of Community Support Programs in conflict- affected and conflict-vulnerable communities. The program helps enhance the delivery of basic services to the people.

Local Integration

The massive turnout of surrenders in both regions can be attributed to the serious implementation of the national government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip).

The said program offers livelihood and financial assistance to all NPA members who surrender to the government. Additional remuneration is given to former rebels who turn in their guns.

Gacal reported that 999 former rebels have been enrolled in the E-Clip. The program has so far distributed P10 million worth of assistance to 209 beneficiaries.

Persona Non Grata

Efforts to rid communities of communist-rebels influence is rapidly paying off as one city, 10 municipalities, and 115 barangays have declared the CPP-NDF-NPA and its front organizations as persona non grata.

Local government officials and community leaders including tribal chieftains have expressed their full support for the government by withdrawing any kind of support for the NPA.

Whole-of-Nation approach

Meanwhile, Gacal expressed confidence that Whole-of-Nation (WNA) approach being pushed by the national and local government is crucial in finally putting an end to the communist insurgency.

Caraga region has already taken the lead by adopting the peace and development zone as its banner program in achieving sustainable peace and development. Northern Mindanao’s Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev) is also gaining headway as the region’s flagship program in ending all forms of armed conflict by addressing the root causes of insurgency.

Both programs are now being eyed by the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as successful models that can be replicated in other regions.

Gacal said, “We all want to create conflict resilient communities and put an end to the armed conflict which has plundered our country for five decades.”

“The next six months are crucial in our campaign. However, at the rate things are going with our convergence efforts, our collective dream of peace and development is fast turning into reality,” he further said.

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