TACLOBAN CITY– At least three towns in Leyte and two municipalities in Eastern Samar were declared by the military to be insurgency-free.

These areas are part of the operations of the 802nd Infantry Brigade which is based in Ormoc City, Leyte whose coverage includes 25 towns and four cities, including the regional center of Tacloban City.

Their operations cover the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, and Eastern Samar.

The declaration, referred to by the military as achieving stable internal peace and security, signifies the absence of rebels and violent activities initiated by the armed groups in these localities.

Declared as insurgency-free on Wednesday (June 12), which coincided with the Philippine Independence Day celebration, were the municipalities of Hilongos, Isabel, and Merida, all in Leyte, and the towns of Sulat and San Julian, both in Eastern Samar.

These areas joined the towns of Bontoc in Southern Leyte; Palompon, Matag-ob, and Hilongos, all in Leyte; and Giporlos in Eastern Samar earlier been declared as insurgency-free by the military.

The mayors of these towns have expressed their gratitude to the Philippine Army of the 802nd IB, which is headed by B/Gen. Noel Vestuir, for the declaration.

With the declaration, not only they have been cleared of the threat or danger from the members of the communist armed group, the New People’s Army, but could now invite investors to their respective areas, they said in separate statements.

Vestuir, for his part, said that the declaration is not just a victory as they continue to battle against the NPA members but more so a strong indication that the villagers are now seeking for peace and stability.

“With the declaration, we send a strong message of unity in our quest to end local communist armed conflict and maintain a peaceful and secure environment for the peace-loving people of these towns,” he said.