Negros Occidental

Bishop not convinced by military view that Negros now ‘insurgency-free’

Reymund Titong

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Bishop not convinced by military view that Negros now ‘insurgency-free’

FILE PHOTO. From the Facebook page of the Philippine Army.

Philippine Army FB

The Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division recommends that Negros Occidental be placed under a 'state of stable internal peace and security,' a new jargon for the label 'insurgency-free'

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The military claimed it has wiped out the communist insurgency in Negros Island, as proven by the absence of major violence here for a period in 2023. However, a leader of the Roman Catholic Church said unless the root causes of the armed conflict are addressed, social unrest will persist in the province.

Lieutenant Colonel J-Jay Javines, the chief public information officer of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, recommended that Negros Occidental be placed under a ‘state of stable internal peace and security’ (SIPS), a new jargon similar the previous label of “insurgency-free” status.

Javines said the government has dismantled the five active guerrilla fronts operating in Negros Island.

But he added, it was not only the dismantling of active guerrilla fronts that was important, but also the fact that there was no major violence initiated by communist insurgents for a certain period in 2023.

“We are empowering the local government units (LGUs) in their peace, security, and development effort. The declaration will make them more deeply involved, meaning they will be the ones initiating programs, projects, and activities to end local communist armed conflict. We will do this with the implementation of the Sustainment Plan to ensure that remnants of dismantled guerilla fronts will not be able to recover,” Javines said.

Though he welcomed the declaration of SIPS in Negros, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza stood by his assessment of the communist insurgency. He said the root causes of armed conflict must be stamped out to ensure the end of social unrest in Negros Occidental.

Alminaza said the SIPS declaration plan would be effective if it meant a cessation of red-tagging and intimidation against the people on the island.

“In Negros, we feel some of the harshest divides between the few rich and the many, many poor and deprived of basic needs. Unless we address the realities of landlessness, inadequate social services, and meager incomes, among others, I would find it hard to imagine that such a statement is accurate or durable,” he said.

Alminaza added that the people of the Philippines deserve a country that truly strives to build peace based on justice, freedom, and democracy.

Meanwhile, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the Regional Peace and Order Council will have to convene on March 13 to discuss if the SIPS declaration in the Negros is feasible.

“Together with the declaration comes a Sustainment Plan, which details the delivery of various government services and infrastructure projects to bring in development, especially in far-flung villages,” Javines said.

Javines, however, made it clear that the military will continue to carry out combat operations even after the SIPS declaration. –

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