Zamboanga del Norte is now insurgency-free after state forces successfully dismantled the last guerrilla front of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the area, officials said Thursday.
Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) of Zamboanga del Norte declared the province as such through a resolution approved Wednesday.
Nicolas said the last NPA guerrilla unit in the province, Guerrilla Front Big Beautiful Country, was officially dismantled on April 4.
“We have no more guerilla fronts or any entity in the province that is affecting our peace and security. The bulk of communist group forces had surrendered and are with us now,” Nicolas said.
“We are currently preparing them for their reintegration into mainstream society. Psychosocial and livelihood assistance are given to all the former rebels who are currently situated at the halfway houses,” he added.
In a statement, Zamboanga del Norte Governor Roberto Uy said the province was declared insurgency-free after the rigorous implementation of programs and projects in the 25 priority barangays of different municipalities in the province.
Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, Joint Task Force ZamPeLan commander, commended the troops under the 102Bde for their accomplishment.
“Zamboanga del Norte is now free from atrocities that hinder development,” he said.
Similarly, Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, attributed the success of the mission to good governance and a multi-sector alliance.
“This proves that convergence is the key to peace and progress. Let us maintain our good relationship and sustain the peace in the communities,” he said.
On Wednesday, a peace rally participated by former rebels was held here in support of the 44th and 97th Infantry Battalions (IBs) under the 102nd Infantry Brigade.
Highlights of the activity were the mass parade, burning of NPA flags, sharing of testimonies by selected former rebels, and a pledge of allegiance to the flag and country.
In her testimony, “Ka Ason”, who served the NPA for 34 years, said she was indoctrinated with the false belief that she will be killed by government forces once she surrenders or gets apprehended.
Nicolas said the testimonies of the former rebels summed up the ill repute of the communist group.
“They indoctrinated the vulnerable groups of society with false ideologies and exploited them,” he said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.
Source: Philippines News Agency