Eastmincom to be more aggressive in fight vs. insurgency

By Che Palicte

December 22, 2019, 1:12 pm

DAVAO CITY -- The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) vowed to continue its security operations and will be more aggressive in ending local communist armed conflict next year, an official said Sunday.

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom spokesperson, said it would take the lead with the different local government units (LGUs) to address the decades-long communist insurgency.

"We will also run after the remaining armed group," Balagtey told the Philippine News Agency.

For 2019, Eastmincom touted its relentless and "focused" efforts this year in securing communities towards addressing local communist armed conflict.

Balagtey attributed the success to the surrender of 696 regular New People’s Army (NPA) members, the arrest of 85 rebels, and the death of 56 members in encounters.

As to the reduction of firearms, a total of 689 were surrendered while 364 were seized during encounters.

Furthermore, the improved security situation is also attributed to the continuous loss of mass base and space as 6,283 mass supporters or members of the underground mass organization dissociated and severed their ties with communist terrorist groups (CTG).

Balagtey also said that currently, about 55 municipalities, four cities, and 24 organizations in the whole area of Eastmincom declared the CTGs as 'persona non grata'.

"It forced them to be mobile and consolidate in the political boundaries of various provinces," Balagtey added.

For this year, he said the Eastmincom was relentless in their Focused Military Operations and were able to respond to the information fed by the communities particularly those who declared the CTGs as persona non grata.

It also led to 275 armed encounters with the CTGs and the discovery of 302 hideouts all over its area of responsibility.

However, some 17 soldiers, 15 members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and three members of the Philippine National Police were killed in various encounters.

In terms of violent extremism programs, activities and security operations were carried out by the different units in coordination with other security agencies, academe, religious groups, LGUs, and other peace stakeholders.

"The culture of security being implemented by Task Force Davao (TFD) is being used as a template to prevent terrorism in urban areas. For the year, there was no recorded violent incident perpetrated by the extremist group," he added.

Eastmincom also reported that with their assistance, the conduct of the Davao De Oro plebiscite recorded zero violence.

"With these improvements, we expect faster delivery of services in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and formerly conflict-affected areas. More so with ELCAC, a program that will address the non-military dimension of insurgency is being operationalized at all levels in the area of Eastern Mindanao. We expect that this will concretize and pushed the peace gains towards a peaceful area that everyone is longing for," Balagtey said.

He also added that their accomplishment will not be possible without the support of their partners and stakeholders who took part in the improvement of the security landscapes of the areas covered by Eastmincom. (PNA)