MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The 35 policemen and key Special Action Force, Philippine Army, and local government officials during the send-back ceremony on Monday (Sept. 26) at the army headquarters in Las Navas, Northern Samar. The troops have been recognized for their efforts to end insurgency in rebel-infested villages of Las Navas town for seven months. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 20th Infantry Battalion) 

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Army and the local government of Las Navas, Northern Samar have recognized the 35 elite police officers who helped end insurgency in the town’s rebel-infested villages for seven months.

Members of the 12th Special Action Battalion of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) based in Calbayog City, Samar were deployed in the town on Feb. 26, 2022 as retooled community support program (RCSP) operators.

“Through their relentless efforts, four villages were declared cleared, peaceful, and conflict-resilient communities by the area clearing evaluation team. With the presence of SAF members, these communities are now free from the influence of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and ready for development,” said 2nd Lt. Joyce Ann Bayron, Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion (IB) in a phone interview.

These four villages are Bulao, Dolores, San Isidro, and Quirino all in Las Navas town.

The Army’s 20th IB led by Lt .Col. Joemar Buban and Las Navas Mayor Arlito Tan led the send-back ceremony on Monday to honor their efforts.

The SAF troopers also participated in the successful conduct of RCSP in Dapdap, Imelda, San Francisco, Magsaysay, San Miguel, Aguinaldo, San Antonio, Catotoogan, and E. Perez villages.

“You left these villages peaceful. What you have done for the people of Las Navas will have a long and lasting effect to peace and security that will pave the way for the development in Northern Samar,” Buban said during the ceremony.

Las Navas is a 4th class town in Northern Samar province with a population of 36,621 people. 

Some towns in Northern Samar are considered hotbed of the communist terrorist group due to their thick forest and poor road networks.

The high incidence of poverty makes people in upland communities vulnerable to the persuasion of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front. (PNA)