ANTI-INSURGENCY. Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (second from left) inspects the firearms surrendered by former communist rebels, which were presented at the Police Regional Office-10 headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday (Aug. 3, 2022). Abalos assures the 'whole of government' framework in tackling the communist insurgency will be retained by the current administration. (Photo courtesy of DILG - 10)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. highlighted on Thursday the success of the “whole of government” framework in the surrender of communist rebels and other armed groups in Mindanao.

During the turnover ceremony Thursday of a water system in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon province, Abalos described as “historic” the surrender of 50 communist rebels in Northern Mindanao on Wednesday afternoon, and 100 Abu Sayyaf Group members in Sulu on July 31.

“You can't win wars by guns, you win it not only by guns but mostly by showing how the government cares,” said Abalos who embarked on a two-day visit to Northern Mindanao that started Wednesday.

He noted that projects like the water systems and bridges will connect far-flung communities to mainstream society which will provide economic prosperity and help reverse the causes of insurgencies.

Other than the surrender of the rebels, Abalos said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will continue the “war on drugs” of former President Rodrigo Duterte with more focus on the empowerment of Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils.

Integration program

On Wednesday, Abalos led the distribution of some PHP13.8-million worth of assistance and firearm remuneration to former New People’s Army rebels.

At least 183 surrendered firearms demilitarized during the ceremony inside the Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao (PRO-10) headquarters here.

Brigadier Gen. Ronaldo Cabral, PRO-10 deputy director for administration, said they are open to accepting more communist rebels including the NPA's “Milisya ng Bayan.”

“The firearms (that we are destroying) are a symbol of our misunderstanding as Filipinos. This is a symbol of violence and separation, and we will destroy and melt them to revert them to simple iron,” Cabral said. (PNA)