CATARMAN, Northern Samar- Northern Samar province is now a “guerilla front free” and has “no barangay under the influence of rebels” according to the top officials of the military in the region during the Joint Regional Task Group 8 – End Local Armed Conflict meeting and Peace and Development dialogue held here on Monday (May 6).

Speaking to the media in the presence of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos after the demilitarization of firearms apprehended by the police and military forces, 8th Infantry Division Commander MGen Camilo Ligayo said that this was achieved due to the support of the local government and barangay local government units.

“This was due to our barangay captains, mayors, and to the implementation of ELCAC (End Local Armed Conflict) and of course good governance,” he said.

“It seems that irreversible na yung trend and we can achieve our victory in a soonest possible time,” MGen Ligayo added.

B/Gen Efren Morados, the commanding officer of the 803rd Infantry Brigade whose operations cover the entire Northern Samar, said that all communist fronts in Samar Island particularly in Northern Samar had been “neutralized” but there are five “vertical front formations” of the New People’s Army that are operating in their area of jurisdiction.
“These are the focus of our operation,” Morados said.

The Army official said that these are the focus of their military operations and campaign which they target to achieve before the end of this year.

Once there are no remaining communist group members in the province, they could work for its declaration as Stable Internal Peace and Security or SIPS.

SIPS status is given if there is no presence of NPA or incident or activity of the communist members in an area for a year.

The latest incident between the communist group and government troops in Northern Samar happened in April in Las Navas town where one member of the communist armed group was killed and another one was wounded.

At present, out of the 24 towns in the province, the towns of Capul, Allen, San Jose, and Rosario, were declared under the SIPS status.

Abalos, during his speech, lauded the efforts of the military, police force, and local government unit and barangay in addressing the insurgency problem in the province leading for some NPA members to surrender and start living as normal members of the community.

“We cannot achieve this without the ELCAC program, providing them with firearms remuneration, livelihood support, immediate assistance, and I am glad that the LGU through Governor (Edwin) Ongchuan also provided assistance and interventions,” Abalos said.

Interventions provided by the provincial government of Northern Samar include providing them housing assistance and livelihood income-earning wages as farm workers at the Kausawagan village – a community developed by the province for former rebels.