TACLOBAN CITY – The sustained delivery of basic services in remote communities of Calbayog City in Samar is seen as a tool to prevent the New People’s Army (NPA) from getting back their previously influenced villages.
After the conduct of service caravans in the upland villages of Dawo and Bayo, the Philippine Army and government agencies have lined up activities to address issues being exploited by the rebel group, according to 1st Lt. Benigno Lopez, spokesperson of the Army’s 43rd Infantry Battalion.
“The two villages have been declared as cleared but there have been recovery efforts of the NPA. It’s good that residents have been reporting to us about the presence of armed men. This prompted us to conduct service caravans,” Lopez told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.
About 500 villagers availed of the basic services from the city government on August 1-2, addressing some of the primary and secondary issues raised by rebels in their recruitment activities, such as government negligence.
Among the services provided were free haircuts, financial assistance, free medical and dental services, agriculture services, civil registration, an information drive on land ownership, and training on basic life support and first aid.
“Our retooled community support program team will regularly visit these communities to ensure that issues are properly addressed by the government. These efforts will prevent (the) NPA from coming back to these communities,” Lopez added.
Present during the caravan were key officials and personnel of the city social welfare and development office, city health office, city disaster risk reduction and management office, city agriculture office, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, and the military.
Dawo and Bayo are near the boundary of Lope de Vega, Northern Samar where the remaining armed NPA members are frequently sighted.
Lopez said only 13 active NPA fighters are roaming the boundaries of Lope de Vega and Calbayog City.
At least 10 platoon members surrendered to the military on July 20, significantly reducing the rebels’ strength.
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 that was created in April 1973. (PNA)