Escalante City folks want insurgency-free community: mayor
By Nanette Guadalquiver / Philippine News Agency
BACOLOD CITY – The City of Escalante in Negros Occidental has dismissed the attempts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to undermine the efforts of the local government in putting an end to violence and insurgency.
Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. said on Friday that “no amount of threat and intimidation from the communist-terrorists can stop our burning desire to liberate Escalante from their bondage”.
“As an elected official whose authority emanates from the people, it is my obligation to fulfill my people’s wish for a violence- and insurgency-free city,” Yap said in a statement issued through the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade.
Although he did not mention specific incidents, the mayor said that these “threats and intimidations will only fuel our concerted efforts to put their barbarity to an end”.
Yap also described the CPP-NPA as desperate in their attempt to malign the city’s efforts in ending the local communist armed conflict in Escalante.
“(Their) desperation is our motivation to continue our bold action against these anti-peace, anti-development and anti-people communist-terrorists,” he added.
Out of the 26 insurgency-cleared barangays in Negros Occidental, 14 are situated in Escalante, which will receive an assistance of PHP20 million each under the national government’s Barangay Development Program (BDP).
The BDP is a hallmark program of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities.
The 14 barangays include Alimango, Binaguiohan, Buenavista, Dian-ay, Japitan, Langub, Libertad, Mabini, Malasibog, Paitan, Pinapugasan, Rizal, Udtongan, and Washington.
Each of these villages will receive the PHP20-million assistance in the form of one-kilometer farm-to-market road worth PHP12 million; classrooms, PHP3 million; water and sanitation systems, PHP2 million; health station, PHP1.5 million; and livelihood projects, PHP1.5 million.
The remaining seven of the 21 villages in Escalante have yet to be declared insurgency-free.
On Sept. 20, 2019, the northern Negros city made history when it hosted what was considered as the biggest mass surrender of former rebels and members of the NPA in the province, during a peace summit that marked the 34th year of the Escalante Massacre.
Some 2,510 people, who previously fought for and supported the communist-terrorist group, took their oath of allegiance to the Philippine government during the event.
The CPP-NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)