Captain Mark Anthony Tito, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY – Only one New People’s Army (NPA) rebel unit remains before Davao Region can be declared “insurgency-free”, the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division (ID) said Wednesday.

“Even when President Rodrigo Duterte ended his term, the 10ID continues its efforts to push for the declaration of our areas of responsibility as free from insurgency. In Davao Region, there is just one left, the weakened NPA Guerrilla Front (GF) 18 that operates in Davao Oriental province,” Capt. Mark Anthony Tito, the 10ID spokesperson, said.

Tito said the military has cleared the barangays that were formerly influenced by the NPA GF-18, enabling it to be declared a “weakened unit.”

He also noted that Davao Oriental was the first to establish best practices that served as a benchmark for the military in its NPA clearing operations.

Other provinces and cities in the Davao Region have been declared only this year as insurgency-free.

Davao City was first to be declared insurgency free on March 24; Davao del Norte and Davao Occidental on June 13;  Davao de Oro, June 22; and Davao del Sur, July 1.

Meanwhile, Art Milan, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry area vice president for Mindanao, said businesses have started to flourish in the communities that were declared by the military as insurgency-free.

“To cite an example, in the highlands of Davao del Norte in Talaingod town, the resorts and restaurants have been sprouting just after it was announced that the area is cleared of NPAs. When the people feel safe, commerce will follow,” Milan said in a separate interview.

Encouraged by the positive impact on businesses, he said they will propose the continuation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict under the new administration.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-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 National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)