Ilocos Region soon to be declared insurgency-free

By Hilda Austria / Philippine News Agency

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (PNA file photo)

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Authorities have affirmed that Ilocos Region can now be declared as insurgency-free following a year of zero violent incidents involving the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Brig. Gen. Krishnamurti Mortela, commander of the 702nd Infantry Brigade, in a phone interview on Thursday, said the region is qualified to move to the “last stage” in the classification of an area as insurgency-free based on the joint implementing rules and regulations.

Mortela said the first is insurgency stage wherein there are influence and presence of armed groups while the second is an area declared as conflict manageable and ready for further development, which has been done in the region as early as 10 years ago when the force of the communist-terrorist group was substantially reduced.

He said the third stage is the insurgency-free wherein the government is in full control and there are no longer armed groups.

The territorial defenses are in place and de-radicalization (reorientation and reintegration) was done to the former supporters and the area was cleared of any influence of the communist-terrorist group, Mortela said.

“We have done this (third stage) and there has been relatively a year of peace,” he added.

The dismantling of the Komiteng Larangan Guerilla (KLG) South Ilocos Sur happened in September last year.

Mortela said the last stage involves attaining a stable and internal peace and security, wherein concerned authorities can now sign and declare the region as insurgency-free.

“We will do appropriate documentation to formalize the declaration of the region as insurgency-free,” he added.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said more developmental projects can be pursued in the region as it is now free of violence and illegal activities of the CPP-NPA.

“We affirm what we have been telling you that Region 1 (Ilocos Region) is insurgency-free. The lone KLG group has been dismantled (last year) and the remaining elements (of the group) have transferred to other guerilla fronts in the Cordillera Region, which are also getting dismantled that they are very weak now,” Esperon said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday afternoon hosted by the Philippine Information Agency Ilocos regional office.

He said the declaration is yet to be formalized, however, it was already evaluated at the operation and fiscal levels.

Elections

Esperon said with the absence of armed groups and influence of the CPP-NPA, Ilocos Region can have a “good climate” for next year’s elections.

“Because they were already dismantled, we expect less activity in regards to extortion and the thing called ‘permit to campaign’ and ‘permit to win’, we will not allow that to happen. We will not allow the group to harass and extort from the candidates,” he said.

Esperon said operations continue in areas as well as the development projects in the communities where the group’s influence has been “rooted deeply”.

Checkpoints have been established while police presence has been strengthened and will remain in far-flung areas to ensure safe, peaceful, and honest elections, he added.

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

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)

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