KANANGA, Leyte- Five island towns in Samar are to be declared as insurgency free by the military. This was disclosed by Major General Jet Velarmino, commanding officer of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City. Velarmino, however, declined to identify the island towns of Samar, once considered the hot-bed of insurgency of the country. The region’s highest military official also declined to say as to when they would declare the five areas as completely without the presence of the rebel group, the New People’s Army.

Just recently, the military declared 15 towns in Leyte to be insurgency-free.  Of the six provinces of Eastern Visayas, only the provinces of Biliran and Southern Leyte were declared as insurgency-free. However, all the four remaining provinces of the region were declared by the military to be manageable areas, short for the declaration as an insurgency-free. Velarmino, who was in town for the celebration of the founding of the 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga, said that declaring a town as an insurgency free area is the next step before a province is declared as such.

Velarmino said that in the course of their campaign against members of the Maoist-inspired group, which has been waging armed battle with the government for more than four decades now, skirmishes between the two warring groups is “inevitable.” Meantime, Kananga Mayor Elmer Codilla said that the campaign against insurgency is not only the obligation of the soldiers. “The Army and the local government units cannot do it on their own. We need help from the communities that are now cooperating since they had seen that soldiers are now more approachable and they are partner in development,” said Codilla. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)