21 Barangays Declared as Insurgency-Free

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Twenty-one barangays in three municipalities here have recently been declared as cleared from insurgency, thus, making them ready for further development.

Following a stringent validation process, the members of the Area Clearing Validation Board (ACVB) jointly consisting of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, 701st Brigade, the Philippine National Police XI and the Davao Oriental Police Provincial Office, have signed the resolutions declaring these barangays as cleared, peaceful, and conflict-resilient.

Brigadier General Mario Lacurom signs the resolution declaring the 21 barangays as cleared, peaceful, and conflict-resilient.

The Chairman of the ACVB Assistant Division Commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division Brigadier General Mario Lacurom said that these cleared barangays have satisfied the parameters set by the board for the “declaration”.

Among the parameters set are the presence of strong barangay-based institutions, establishment of defense structures, information networks, unearthing if not absence of enemy political structures, absence of incidents in peace and security for a certain period, and presence of economic activities and source of livelihood for villagers, among many others.

The 21 cleared barangays are covered by Area of Responsibility of the Philippine Army’s 28th Infantry Battalion. In the photo is the 28th IB Commander Lt. Col. Miguel Ramon.

The 21 cleared barangays located at the province’s second district consist of 3 barangays in Banaybanay town, 5 in Lupon town, and 13 in San Isidro. These are barangays Mogbongcogon, Panikian, and San Vicente in Banaybanay; New Visayas, Magsaysay, San Jose, Tagboa, and Lantawan in Lupon town. In the municipality of San Isidro are the villages of Cambaleon, Baon, Batobato, Iba, Dogmanon, Lapu-lapu, Maag, Maputi, San Miguel, San Roque, Sto. Rosario, Sudlon, and Talisay.

BGen Lacurom said that with the insurgency-free declaration, the fear and the stigma of being tagged as a hotbed for insurgency will now be removed, thus, enticing the entry of more investments and other development projects rather than driving them away.

He said that government interventions, especially those for socio-economic development, serves as the primary key in the keeping the villages peaceful and conflict-resilient.

He lauded Davao Oriental’s rapid pace in peace and development which “has significantly improved the province’s peace and order landscape”. He mentioned the mass surrender of regular members of the New People’s Army which is a good indication of how strong and effective the delivery of services and implementation of government programs here.

He congratulated Davao Oriental for its significant programs, which made it as one of the country’s model for peace and development, such as the establishment of the Happy Home—the country’s first and only halfway house for former rebels and the conduct of a regular outreach caravan in the barangays that delivers basic services to the communities.

Strengthening of the organizations at the barangays is also an effective strategy in fighting the insurgency, he said, pointing out the military-initiated Community Support Program (CSP) for its huge role in shifting the communities’ support from the insurgents to the government through the implementation of livelihood programs, fostering community dialogues, and facilitation of government development programs, among others.

With the current pace the province is taking on its peace and development journey, Lacurom said that the NPA rebels are now becoming insignificant because the people’s needs are already being addressed by the government.

However, he urged local government officials not to settle on these laurels, emphasizing that the local government and other stakeholders must work together in order to sustain the villages’ insurgency-free status. He recommends establishing sustainable mechanisms and boosting local government-led programs such as establishment of community cooperatives, peace caravans, development projects, and livelihood programs.

For the military, measures will also be done in order to sustain the peace such as intelligence-driven operations, barangay visitations and the conduct of dialogues.

He also laid emphasis on the role of the barangay local government units in preserving the peace. “It is only a matter of commitment”. He added that the government already has the advantage in terms of manpower and equipment which means there is no reason that they (the rebels) cannot be defeated. He stressed that the decision to remain insurgency-free lies on the hands of the communities and their officials.

701st Brigade Deputy Commander Col. Rodolfo Lavadia, Jr. presents the peace and order situation of the 21 barangays recommended for clearing during the Area Clearing Validation held at the Provincial Capitol.

Village chiefs of the 21 barangays expressed their solid commitment in fighting insurgency. Barangay Chairman Rene Ravelo of Barangay Magsaysay in Lupon town said that this declaration means a lot to his people. “People in our barangay can now freely work without the fear of rebels threatening or harassing them,” he said.

He thanked the collective efforts of the Provincial Government, the national agencies, and the security forces in protecting their barangay. He said people in his barangay are confident to drive the rebels away knowing that the government is behind them. “With everybody’s support, especially the Provincial Government, we have assurance that we are not alone in this fight,” he said.

He added that while his barangay is recipient to many government programs such as road projects and livelihood programs, his people will not allow the rebels to penetrate their territory and disrupt their peace. He said that with their security mechanism, villagers now actively give intelligence report to local officials of any suspicious personalities going into their area.

Aside from the 21 villages that were cleared from insurgency, the ACVB also declared 10 barangays as insurgency-free last year. With all these developments in peace and order taking place, the Provincial Government is positive to make all of its barangays insurgency-free. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photos by Rhea Shane Laureano


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