NPA-affected barangays in Kalinga reduced to 7 - Army
Tabuk City, Kalinga (26 June) -- Barangays in Kalinga infiltrated by the New People's Army (NPA) was reduced to seven after the military cleared two early this year. But the Army here vowed they will clear the remaining NPA - affected barangays "very soon".
This was the report of the 501st Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army headed by Col. Remegio de Vera. The two insurgency-affected barangays of Balbalan cleared by the 21st Infantry Battalion were Poswoy and Baay, which were considered NPA strongholds many years back.
According to 501st Deputy Brigade Commander Col. Eliseo Posadas, the declaration of barangays Poswoy and Baay as "free" from the threat of insurgents was guaranteed by an agreement signed by the local government unit (LGU) of Balbalan, the Philippines National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He said the three partners arrived at this declaration upon final validation that the said barangays met the parameters required to declare a barangay "liberated" from enemy presence. "But 3 are on-going process of clearing; while four under validation," Posadas said.
"From the 9 affected barangays in Kalinga, it was reduced to 7, however, the rest are undergoing clearing through the AFP's special operations program that applies more developmental approached than combat," Posadas said.
Those undergoing clearing and can follow suit the "green" mark are barangays Dupag of this city, Taloctoc of Tanudan, Mabaca, Balbalan while Tanglag, Mabilong, Uma, and Antonio Canao, all of Lubuagan are subject for initial validation if they can be recommended for the status.
There are no more NPA strongholds in the province. The status of affected barangays were reduced to "influenced barangays" meaning NPAs only pass through those areas but don't stay long, Posadas said adding that the enemy strength remains at 45 physical bodies and are camping at the tri-boundaries of the Cordillera provinces.
In support to the call for a ceasefire with rebels, Posadas said they are talking with the elders of the community to persuade NPAs belonging to their tribe to surrender and support local peace talks through the bodong system. The holding of authentic dialogues with the communities will be a "ACWScontinuing effort" ACWS by the government to obtain the needed inputs for the resumption of the peace negotiations.
Parallel to this local policy is the statement of National Peace Negotiator Avelino Razon that government now willing to talk with Reds even without ceasefire. As a continuing gestures of government's sincerity, he said PGMA distributed assistance package to 13 RRs in central Luzon. The President`s new paradigm for peace includes interfaith dialogue, authentic consultations with the communities affected by the conflict and the principles of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of the armed rebel groups.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reaffirmed her administration' s strong commitment and resolve to put an end to insurgency problem in 2010, as well as underscoring the importance of peace to the country's march towards sustainable development.
Meanwhile, 5 rebel returnees (RRs) who joined the mainstream society and continued their schooling after availing of government scholarship grant graduated while 15 are studying in college. For SY 2009-2010, 3 applicants already applied to enroll in any short or degree courses. (PIA-Kalinga) [top]