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Army protects, develops communities to drive away rebels

By Nef Luczon / Philippine News Agency

UPDATES. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar (left) and Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy, commander of the Army's 58th Infantry Battalion in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, give updates on anti-insurgency efforts on Saturday (July 17, 2021). The briefing was livestreamed over the Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security-10’s Facebook account. (Screengrab)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Army's 58th Infantry Division (58IB) is eradicating the resources of insurgents and developing communities within its area of jurisdiction in Misamis Oriental province to weaken the operations of communist terrorist groups.

Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy, commander of the 58IB, said Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels are known to exploit the private and business sectors but the Army will protect them while promoting peace and development initiatives.

"We will continue our campaign here in Misamis Oriental so they would not be able to cause chaos and create tactical offensive," he said in a live-streamed briefing on Saturday night with Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security Region 10 head and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar.

Canatoy shared that along with the Claveria Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the 58IB works alongside various government line agencies, local government representatives, and private stakeholders in bringing indigenous peoples (IPs) back to their homes after being driven away by CPP-NPA forces.

"Upon the continuous efforts of the 58IB, we saw that these people really needed our help because for so long, we have overlooked them. Because they live in far-flung areas, we can show how sincere the government is in bringing peace back to the area by helping them," he said.

Currently, the Army unit is assisting the Higaonon IP community of Sitio Kalhaan through infrastructure, security, and agricultural development.

The promotion of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) also helps encourage rebels to start a new life free from violence and struggle.

They receive financial assistance, livelihood training, and access to government services.

"As of the moment, about 80 percent of them (former rebels) have received their E-CLIP benefits. Some of them have even received almost a million pesos because of firearms remuneration. We have helped so many former rebels," Canatoy said.

The CPP-NPA is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)



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