DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Davao’s Regional Peace and Order Council on Wednesday, October 12, officially declared the entire region insurgency-free.
The declaration was made during the RPOC executive committee meeting of Davao Region governors, city and town mayors, and military officials at the Felix Apolinario Naval Station in Panacan, Davao City.
Officials saw the declaration as historic in a region where the New People’s Army (NPA) established a bailiwick in Mindanao decades ago.
Davao City, the regional center, was deemed as the “killing fields” in Mindanao in the 1980s as a result of the communist insurgency.
“This is a precious gift to the people of the Davao Region, especially since the Christmas season is coming,” said Major General Nolasco Mempin, the commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
The declaration was made just a month after NPA rebels and soldiers exchanged firepower in outlying villages of Banaybanay and Lupon towns in Davao Oriental.
At least five rebels were killed in the fierce encounters that forced a town mayor to suspend classes in affected areas in the municipality of Banaybanay.
Mempin, who is the vice chairman of the council, led the signing of Resolution No. 7-2022 that declared the entire region communist insurgency-free.
Captain Mark Anthony Tito, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told Rappler that the local peace and order councils of Davao City, and the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, and Davao Occidental earlier declared their territories communist insurgency-free.
Tito said the military succeeded in its campaign to “dismantle and destroy” 15 communist guerrilla fronts – groups tasked to do ideological and political organization work like recruitment and territorial expansion – since 2018.
During the period, he said, the military also got rid of six “Pulang Bagani” commands that carried out offensives such as ambuscades and raids in the region.
The NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee and its five sub-regional committees that supervised the guerrilla fronts have become things of the past in the Davao Region, the military claimed.
The military also said the campaign of the 10th Infantry Division “neutralized” some 1,749 NPA rebels since 2016.
The military logged 107 rebels killed, 217 others captured, and the remaining 1,425 surrendered throughout the region during the period.
Some 1,597 firearms used by rebels were also seized by government forces in the region since 2016, the military said.
Tito said the military campaign in the region prompted 9,985 members of the NPA-affiliated groups in 401 villages to turn themselves in from 2016 to 2022.
Mempin attributed the Army’s feat in the Davao Region to the collaboration of the military, local governments, and other stakeholders. – Rappler.com