Region 1 now free of armed insurgents; TF-ELCAC to focus more on development
By Joyah Mae C. Quimoyog / Philippine Information Agency
ILOCOS SUR – National Security Adviser (NSA) and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security in Ilocos Region (CORDS-1) Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. announced that Ilocos Region is now free of armed insurgents as the only existing guerilla front of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the Ilocos Region which is the Komiteng Larangang Gerilya-South Ilocos Sur or the KLG-SIS was already dismantled.
“Region 1 is now free of armed insurgents. It is through the collaborative efforts of our AFP and PNP; our elected leaders led primarily by our governors and mayors; local government units (LGUs); national government agencies (NGAs); civil society organizations; and the Ilocanos who all believe that we can make things better if we will work together. Let’s all continue working and supporting each other under our whole of nation approach,” Esperon said.
It can be recalled that last year, a series of armed encounters took place in the province of Ilocos Sur.
These encounters resulted in the neutralization of top ranking CTG personalities which was complemented with the withdrawal of support to the CPP-NPA-NDF of prominent white area personalities in Ilocos Region and Underground Mass Organizations (UGMO) members through the combined AFP-PNP community support program teams.
“The recovery of CTG firearms through encounters and surrenders further crippled the CTG organization in Region I, particularly in Ilocos Sur,” he added.
During the recent episode of the Kapihan sa Ilocos of the Philippine Information Agency, Esperson said, “By dismantling the KLG-SIS, we expect that we can now focus more on development. We expect that we can now focus more on the 'white areas' – more urbanized areas, because there are still remnants of their front organizations.”
“The Ilocos Human Rights Alliance has already joined hands with us, the leader of the group have already returned to the folds of the law and joined us for our effort to end local communist armed conflict,” he added.
Moreover, in the process of the clearing of barangays under the influence of the CPP-NPA, he said that the Joint Regional Task Force member agencies contributed immensely during the immersions in the affected barangays to bring needed services.
Converging with the AFP and PNP in the initiative called the Retooled Community Support Program, the LGU and the NGAs implemented projects that addressed the root causes of insurgency.
Esperon said that from year 2016 up to 2019, a total of 822 barangays have been cleared of insurgency and these are the areas approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to be given Php 20 million each under the Barangay Development Program (BDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In 2020 alone, 27 barangays in Ilocos Sur were cleared of the CTG influence.
“One-kilometer farm-to-market concrete road (Php12 million), classroom (Php3 million), health station (Php1.5 million), water works and sanitation (Php2 million), rural electrification o livelihood (Php1.5 million) – ‘yan ang kabuuan ng allotted na Php20 million bawat barangay at itong mga projects na ito ay hindi natin gawa-gawa lang kundi ‘yan na rin ang rekomendado ng local government at mga residente ng barangay,” Esperon, who is vice-chair of NTF-ELCAC, said.
Said 27 barangays shall be added to the second batch of barangays which will be allotted with Php20 million development fund from the BDP, Esperon added. (JCR/AMB/JMCQ, PIA Ilocos Sur)