By: Saul Pa-a
CAVINTI, LAGUNA — Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog, Secretary Dennis Hernandez, expressed optimism on Wednesday the Calabarzon region will soon become insurgency-free.
He said this in his remarks during Wednesday’s closing rites of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF ELCAC) 4A’s Indigenous People’s Summit here.
Hernandez said Calabarzon is seen to eradicate the insurgency soon following the recent dismantling of the New People’s Army (NPA) front operating in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite.
Hernandez said this development was followed by the declaration of Cavite as the first province in the country with Stable Internal Peace and Security (SIPS).
“President Rodrigo Duterte is very serious in ending insurgency and the key to attaining this is convergence, something that we have been doing in Southern Tagalog,” said Hernandez, who also serves as chair of the RTF ELCAC 4A.
Local peace talks and initiatives have contributed to the efforts to ensure an all-inclusive peace and development in the region, he said.
He said through the teamwork and convergence among government agencies, local government units and development stakeholders, poverty and insurgency in the region would be addressed. Aside from Batangas and Cavite, included in the Calabarzon region are the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Quezon.
During the summit, Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu of the Department of National Defense’s Task Force Balik-Loob lauded “Team Southern Tagalog” for the activation of RTF ELCAC, implementation of the enhanced comprehensive local integration program, and addressing the needs and concerns of the IP community.
Organized by the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade based here, the IP Summit has drawn the participation of local stakeholders, especially of at least 23 tribal chieftains of the Dumagat Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
Undersecretary Allen Capuyan, Presidential Adviser for IP Affairs, also lauded the regional task force’s initiative to involve the IPs in the government’s counterinsurgency program.
“IPs should be given importance since they are very critical and one of the most vulnerable parts of our society who often end up as victims of the NPA’s deception to further their protracted people’s war,” Capuyan said.
Military officials also said that on March 29 this year, around 45 former rebels – all of them Dumagats – returned to mainstream society and surrendered firearms to authorities. (PNA)