CAMIGUIN, Philippines – The Philippine military has declared this island paradise province in Northern Mindanao as "insurgency-free."
The 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the provincial government marked the event with a Memorandum of Agreement on Tuesday, February 10, turning over the peace and security responsibilities over the province to the provincial government and the provincial police.
Colonel Jesse Alvarez, 403rd Infantry Brigade commander and Police Senior Superintendent Wilfredo Cayat, Camiguin provincial police director, had made the joint recommendation to the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Camiguin.
Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said that the province has been enjoying a peaceful existence but noted the need to further step up security in the island province, which has become among the country's top tourism destinations with an annual average of 380,000 visitors.
Romualdo said that while Camiguin has been relatively peaceful, the root cause of the insurgency must be addressed by the government, to ensure the province keeps its status.
Romualdo said the government should work closely with the Provincial Planning and Development Office and other line agencies for programs that would help the province remain insurgency-free.
Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad, Eastern Mindanao Command chief, said that peace and security is a complex issue that involves the implementation of "firm policies."
Balalad said that the Internal Peace and Security Plan, "Bayanihan," requires help from all stakeholders in the community.
In response to the government’s claim, Alan Juanito, spokesperson of the North Central Mindanao Command of the New People’s Army, confirmed that they no longer have any presence in the island.
“We are having a hard time to establish a mass base and a deployment of troops,” Juanito's text message read. – Rappler.com