INSURGENCY-FREE. Outgoing Davao del Sur Gov. Marc Douglas IV Cagas underscores Tuesday (June 28, 2022) the importance of maintaining the programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) to sustain peace and order.  Cagas also announced that Davao del Sur is now insurgency-free. (PNA photo by Che Palicte)

DIGOS, Davao del Sur – Development programs under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) should be sustained to keep communist rebels at bay and maintain peace and order in the province.

This was according to outgoing Governor Marc Douglas IV Cagas, who said the gains made under President Duterte's “whole-of-nation” approach in tackling communist insurgency must be maintained by the next administration.

“We should continue this. The impact of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) is very good,” Cagas said in an interview Tuesday.

At least eight barangays in the province are recipients of the BDP package after having been declared “cleared” of communist presence and influence.

The BDP, a hallmark program of NTF ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities, has identified 822 barangays nationwide that were former guerilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“War is not the answer, the solution is sustainability. We will offer livelihood and training as we reintegrate our former rebels into their communities,” Cagas said.

Insurgency-free

Cagas said the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) has recently declared the province insurgency-free.

In a resolution, PPOC said the insurgency problem was addressed following the aggressive operations undertaken by the Army's 1002nd Infantry Brigade utilizing 39th Infantry Battalion and 73rd Infantry Battalion, and with the support of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to the peace and order body, the military operations led to the surrender of members of the armed group, destruction of the NPA formations, recovery and capture of their firearms, and the collapse of mass base supporters and members of the political power of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“There were no recorded province-wide NPA activities and organized underground mass organization,” the resolution noted.

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 NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)