PEACE VILLAGE. The proposed site of Peace Village in San Jose de Buan, Samar. The proposed village will have a permanent house for former rebels, a training center, and a farm lot for agriculture-related livelihood activities. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

TACLOBAN CITY – The local government unit of San Jose de Buan, Samar is preparing for the construction of a Peace Builder Village in their town intended for former members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Philippine Army’s 87th Infantry Battalion (87IB) spokesperson 2nd Lt. Zyndyl Simon said on Tuesday there have been coordination meetings with owners of possible locations and discussion on fund support to build the project.

“Mayor Joaquin Elizalde is determined to push a strong partnership with the different agencies to support the local government unit in upholding its mandate of providing decent and resilient village for the peacebuilder groups who were once lost and deceived,” Simon said in a phone interview.

Lt. Col. Luzelito Betinol, 87IB commander, said in a statement the military is committed to working in close coordination with the other concerned agencies for the realization and completion of the project.

“This is a sign that we are welcoming home the remnants of the communist terrorist groups rambling and hiding in the mountains, for a peaceful home awaits them,” Betinol said in a statement.

Angelito Villanueva, Samar provincial environment and natural resources officer, said their office is also involved in the pre-construction stage since the entire San Jose de Buan town is within the Samar Island Natural Park, one of the protected areas in the country.

The proposed village will have a permanent house for former rebels, a training center, and a farm lot for agriculture-related livelihood activities. It will also accommodate former rebels from nearby Samar towns.

Between 2020 to 2021, at least 16 active NPA members and staunch allies yielded to authorities and turned over several firearms in San Jose de Buan town alone.

The town is one of the NPA’s strongholds in Samar Island considering its strategic location within the tri-boundaries of Northern, Eastern, and Samar provinces.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (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 inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA, created in April 1973. (PNA)