ILOILO CITY – Five far-flung villages of the municipality of San Joaquin, Iloilo have shown their condemnation against the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) through a series of peace rallies.
Capt. Hazel Joy M. Durotan, civil-military operations (CMO) officer of the 301st Infantry Brigade (301st IBde) of the Philippine Army, said on Tuesday the rebel-influenced villages of Cadluman, Igdagmay, Iglilico, Igpayong, and San Mateo initiated the rallies held from March 30 to April 1 this year.
“Community Support Programs (CSP) have been deployed in those areas under the 61st Infantry Battalion,” she said in a phone interview.
She added that residents of Barangays Cadluman and Igdagmay staged their peace rally on March 30; Barangay Iglilico on March 31, and Barangays Igpayong and San Mateo on April 1.
The participants totaling more or less 600, mostly parents, carried with them signboards and banners bearing their sentiments against the CPP-NPA terrorists.
They demanded an end to their extortion activities, harassments, threats to the local populace, and recruitment and exploitation of the youth and indigenous peoples (IPs).
The peace rallies were highlighted by the signing of a wall of commitment followed by the oath of allegiance to the government and the burning of CPP-NPA-NDF flags.
The activities, anchored on the theme “Peace is the Greatest Weapon for Development”, were led by their respective barangay officials, she added.
During the activities, the 61st Infantry Battalion also distributed food packs and leaflets on the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to encourage remaining rebels to surrender and lead normal lives.
Since February 11, 2021, the barangays have all been beneficiaries of CSP which does not only address the security and peace concerns but likewise assists in the delivery of government services.
After the CSP that will last for three months, the barangays will be evaluated to determine whether or not they can be declared free from the influence of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs), Durotan said.
Currently, she said soldiers have a good rapport with the residents, who are already supportive of the presence of government troops.
Last Feb. 18, a soldier of the 79th Infantry Battalion was wounded in a chance encounter with members of the CPP-NPA in Barangay Igcocolo while government troops were conducting a house-to-house visitation as part of the CSP.
In a press statement on Tuesday, Brig. Gen Marion Sison, commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade, lauded the residents for standing up against the CTGs.
"Coordination, cooperation, and collaboration between the military, other local government agencies, stakeholders, and the community indeed promote trust and confidence of the locals. The cooperation paves the way for the delivery of basic services to cater to the needs of the people. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na ito upang magbigay daan ang isang tunay na kapayapaan at pag-unlad ng buong Panay (Hope this continues to pave the way to true peace and development in the whole of Panay),” Sison said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)