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Updated: Mar 18

15 March 2024

SURIGAO CITY- The province of Surigao del Norte has been officially declared insurgency-free by national and local officials. The significant announcement was made on March 15, 2024. During the ceremony, key figures were present such as Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Executive Director Ernesto Torres Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., and Governor Roberto Lyndon Barbers participated. Earlier this month, the Provincial Peace and Order Council and the Provincial Development Council of Surigao del Norte jointly approved a resolution, leading to the official declaration.

Secretary Teodoro emphasized that the people of Surigao del Norte openly expressed their desire to end insurgency as the most vital aspect of this declaration. He also stressed the importance of ongoing government programs and services in persuading remaining communist rebels to return to mainstream society. He also mentioned President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s order to establish a multi-threat armed force capable of dealing with both internal and external threats.

While the journey to eradicate the communist insurgency has been difficult, Governor Barbers recognized the ongoing challenge of maintaining internal peace and security with the invaluable support of the national government.

As part of the event, USec Torres delivered a message recalling his experiences as a former Deputy Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, Brigade Commander, and Division Commander. He narrated how he witnessed the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) caused terror in the province, including incidents such as the kidnapping of two Police Officers and the targeting of Indigenous Peoples (IPs). And as the Executive Director of NTF-ELCAC, he expressed pride and satisfaction in witnessing the peace that the citizens deserve .

He highlighted that the celebration serves as a testament to the power of good governance and the collective efforts of every sector of our society. It is a demonstration of the effectiveness of the Whole of Government and Whole of Nation Approach. While we revel in the security attained in the province, he ensured that the commitment to progress remains unwavering. The NTF-ELCAC will intensify its efforts to bring the government closer to the geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas through various programs, such as the Barangay Development Program and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

His message encapsulated, “Winning the peace is also a reminder for us to be more alert and to never allow getting our guards down as they say, lasting peace is the price of eternal vigilance. And to reiterate the proclamation of our President in his SONA 2023, where he said and let me quote “We are now at a point in our history when their armed struggle has evolved. We have now progressed together towards peace and development."

Usec. Ernesto C. Torres, Jr.

Executive Director, NS, NTF-ELCAC



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