Mati City, Davao Oriental dive site (File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos on Thursday welcomed the declaration of Davao region as “insurgency free”, describing it as a “collective victory” in attaining peace and security in the entire country.

Speaking during the relaunch of Davao region as a tourism and investment-ready destination in Panacan, Davao City, Marcos said the insurgency-free declaration proves that “there is no place for extremism and senseless violence anywhere in the Philippines.”

“We must all be proud and happy knowing that the Davao Region has been declared as insurgency-free by the Davao Regional Peace and Order Council. An important day indeed, it is one noteworthy achievement not only for Davaoeños but for every Filipino as well,” he said in his speech.

Marcos said there is no better way to commemorate the eradication of insurgency in Davao than to declare the region as a tourism and investment-ready destination.

“Davao with its very active and vibrant economy, and the businesses who have been leading the way in Mindanao and doing better than the national averages, have always been there. However, we have always had to deal with the security problem that was holding progress back,” he said.

He pointed out that “peace” and “progress go hand in hand”, stressing that both were essential to creating a thriving environment.

Marcos expressed confidence that the declaration would serve as a timely platform to boost Davao’s post-pandemic economic growth and leverage the region’s abundant resources and opportunities.

“As Mindanao’s largest economy, the Davao Region will play an important role in this march of the entire country towards prosperity. It must also maintain its stature as a beacon of progress, where many facets of our landscapes and culture will be shared for those who will set foot on this rich land,” he said.

He was also hopeful that achievements made in Davao would be replicated across the country.

“This way, we can reproduce our shared success a hundred-fold, allowing our fellow countrymen to reap the benefits of safety and prosperity for present and future generations to come,” he added.

Peace efforts

Meanwhile, Marcos lauded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Eastern Mindanao Command for ensuring the protection and security of Filipinos through civil and military operations.

He also recognized the efforts of local government units (LGUs), national government agencies, and law enforcement authorities for supporting the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) through programs that improve the living conditions for all.

“...That whole-of-nation concept that was attached to the NTF-ELCAC was, I think, what brought us success. Because instead of the rebel returnee or even the rebel fighter --- instead of them only dealing with the military, now they deal with the entire government. And whatever it is that the government can give, that one is what we will give to those who are in need and to take away the reason for them to continue fighting against the government,” he said.

“...To those men and women who are part of that very important effort, your patriotism, your sacrifice, and your commitment to the ideals of peace have yielded successful and fruitful results. Now, the people in the region, especially those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, will reap the full benefits of the peace for which all of you have been responsible,” he added.

He also emphasized the need to sustain the current whole-of-nation approach to peace development to prevent terrorist and lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping, and regaining power.

“We cannot afford to go back to square one. Thus, I call on our armed forces, government agencies, LGUs, and communities to continue working together to seize the gains in the region and ensure that we will carry this momentum toward the future,” Marcos said. (PNA)