Red-free Surigao del Norte ‘significant milestone’ in anti-NPA drive

By Priam Nepomuceno

March 19, 2024, 2:17 pm

<p>National Security Adviser Eduardo Año <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The declaration of Surigao del Norte as an insurgency-free province highlights the government's ongoing efforts against the New People's Army (NPA) and its allies, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año said.

"This achievement is commendable and marks a significant milestone in defeating communist terrorism in Eastern Mindanao. Indeed, the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front) is on the retreat all over the country," he said in a statement Monday night.

Surigao del Norte, a former hotbed of insurgency in Mindanao, was declared an insurgency-free province last March 15.

For this victory, Año lauded the efforts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), provincial government, local government units, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police, and the Joint Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict-Caraga Region for eliminating all remaining NPAs in the province.

"This underscores the effectiveness of collaborative strategies in countering insurgency, particularly the NTF-ELCAC's whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach,” he said.

“The implementation of government initiatives such as the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) has yielded remarkable results, as evidenced by the surrender of insurgents and their successful reintegration into society," he added.

To date, Surigao del Norte has already received PHP10.059-million ECLIP funds over the last six years.

It also received PHP1.067 billion SBDP funds for three cities, three municipalities, and 70 barangays for projects such as farm-to-market roads, water and sanitation, health stations, schools, rural electrification, and others in conflict affected areas.

"This milestone not only enhances the security landscape of Surigao del Norte but also contributes to the overall stability and development of Eastern Mindanao. It serves as a testament to the resilience and resolve of the people, as well as effectiveness of focused military and police operations coupled with development projects," Año said.

He also said the NPA is at its weakest in its 52-year history.

"With its guerilla fronts now weakened all over the country, the NPA has been strategically defeated and I am hopeful that the AFP will meet its target of dismantling all remaining weakened guerilla fronts all over the country by the end of the year," Año added. (PNA)