Samar town vows to sustain peace in 12 rebel-cleared villages
By Sarwell Meniano / Philippine News Agency
ATTAINING PEACE. Matuguinao, Samar Mayor Aran Boller (center) leads the delivery of food packs to families in one of the rebel-cleared villages in their town on June 18, 2021. The town is giving more attention to 12 villages recently rid of the influence of the New People’s Army. (Photo courtesy of Matuguinao local government)
TACLOBAN CITY – The local government of Matuguinao in Samar province is giving more attention to 12 villages recently rid of the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The NPA-cleared villages are Del Rosario, Ligaya, Carolina, San Roque, Inubod, Rizal, Mahayag, Libertad, Diit, Nagpapacao, Sta Cruz, and San Isidro.
Matuguinao Mayor Aran Boller said on Thursday they have to sustain peace and development efforts to make sure that these communities will not again be infiltrated by the communist terrorist group.
The local government and the military have been regularly visiting these communities for dialogues and distribution of assistance, according to Boller.
On July 8, the mayor awarded the certificate to officials of the 12 villages identified as cleared, peaceful and conflict-resilient communities effective in the first quarter of 2021.
“Clearing these areas is a manifestation that we are sincere in fighting insurgency in our town. After decades of suffering from the terrorist activities of NPA, we need to have a peaceful life, free from worries and troubles,” Boller said in a phone interview.
The 12 villages will be covered in 2022 by the Barangay Development Program (BDP), a project of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Each village is bound to receive PHP20 million for basic infrastructure and livelihood activities under BDP and will be implemented by the local government as the allocation goes directly to them from the Department of Budget and Management.
The local government and the Philippine Army issued the rebel-free declaration after intensified campaign against insurgency that compelled over 200 rebels in their town, including mass supporters to surrender early this year.
Matuguinao is a fifth-class town in Samar province with a population of nearly 8,000 in 20 villages. The town is known in the past as a hotbed of the communist terrorist group.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)