Barangay peace councils ask for prior consultation on local insurgency drive
by JMD Abangan
SAN ISIDRO, Davao del Norte (27 June) -- “It would be good to consult the local government before waging all-out insurgency campaign in an area,” the Municipality’s Association of Barangay Captain (ABC) president Jessie Alcomendras said in Visayan dialect.
In an interview, Alcomendras noted the significant role of local peace and order councils whose views could also be considered important in carrying out the campaign.
“Kay sila man ang mas nakabalo kay taga diha man sila. Because they (local council members) know the situation in their area.),” he said.
Alcomendras was referring to the latest pronouncement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to wipe out the almost 40-year old insurgency problem. The President ordered the release of P1 billion for the military to be used to purchase helicopters and other aircraft essential to fighting New People’s Army rebels.
A fifth class municipality, the two-year old San Isidro is being considered as a hot spot where the presence of the insurgency is among its challenges.
Alcomendras said only two of the 13 barangays are in trouble with sightings of armed men in certain sitios particularly in Barangays Linao and San Miguel, but the rest of the town are relatively peaceful.
He admitted that insurgency “is a problem” in the municipality particularly in those barangays but he saw guns as not the sole solution to the problem.
Referring to barangays San Miguel and Linao where school opening was delayed due to peace and order threats, he said the areas need particular attention as residents were living in deprivation.
He viewed it as important that government deliver basic needs and extend livelihood assistance for residents though he appreciated the military for conducting pulong-pulong or local meetings with residents.
“Mas mayo nga duna silay pangabuhian, para dili sila makabig sa pikas. (It is important for them to have a means of livelihood so they won’t get swayed by the other party.),” he said.
The internal security plan of the national government codenamed OPlan Bantay Laya is a combination of military operations, law enforcement and pro-poor programs designed to mop up the mass base of revolutionary movement.
Meanwhile, San Isidro chief of police, P/Inspector Angelo Arce saw relevance of the anti-insurgency campaign especially when funding for it would equally be channeled to livelihood assistance for insurgency-affected areas and to operation of local peace and order councils.
“Makatabang kini ug dako. Unsaon nato pag-eliminate sa ila kung dili nato sila banatan? (This is of great help. How can we eliminate them if we would not go after them relentlessly.),” he said of PGMA’s all-out insurgency campaign.
More than facing the rebels with arms, he said development initiatives in the form of livelihood assistance, farm-to-market road and access roads should also be pursued in problematic areas.
“Hatagan pud unta ug ayuda sa panginabuhi ang katawhan aron ang ilang simpatiya sa gobyerno na kay nahatag naman ang ilang gikinahanglan. (There should be livelihood assistance for them so their sympathy would go back to the government especially when their needs shall have been addressed.),” he explained.
He also saw the need for subsidy to be granted to local peace and order councils for them to fully mobilize their civilian voluntary officers (CVO) and barangay tanods and to fully implement plans geared towards building peace in their respective area.
He noted that services of CVO in most of the barangays in San Isidro could not be sustained because “these people are also seeing to it that they are not leaving behind their means of living.”
“It would be good if their honorarium can be sustained,” he said in local dialect.
Arce said campaign against insurgency can be sustained through police community relations operation while leaving arms encounter or combat operation to the military.
“Ang mga dagku nga offensive sa military,” he said. (PIA) [top]