BEAUTY QUEENS. Shaan Morata (right) was named as this year’s Miss Ormoc while Kathreen Kaye Dacanay (left) of Borongan City is this year’s Miss Pintados. The two new beauty queens were separately crowned in glittering ceremonies on June 24. Morata will represent Ormoc in next year’s Miss Grand Philippines while Dacanay will be the region’s bet for this year’s Miss World Philippines. (story page 3)

N. Samar cited as ‘last bastion’ of EV’s insurgency

TACLOBAN CITY – The governor of Northern Samar, Edwin Ongchuan, renewed his appeal for the remaining members of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in his province to surrender.

Ongchuan said that both the national and the provincial governments have programs that will help them easily reintegrate with the community.

“I am appealing once again for our brothers and sisters to please surrender,” he said. “The provincial government is here to help you start your new life. We will provide our all-out support to you so that you can live a normal life,” Ongchuan added.

Recently, several NPA members and top officials were killed in different encounters with government troops amid push of the government to finally end the insurgency problem hounding the country for five decades now.

Northern Samar has been tagged as the ‘last bastion’ of the insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas with two communist guerilla fronts operating across the province and spilling over to the rest of Samar Island.

The provincial government had put up a community for former rebels which they called ‘Kauswagan’ village located in Barangay Cablangan, Mondragon town.

Kauswagan village is a core shelter facility for former rebels they called “peace builders” located within the 14.8 hectares of land donated by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority or PhilFIDA to the provincial government.

Aside from housing units, former rebels who are now staying in the community were also provided with livelihood assistance by both the local and national governments.

“Former rebels who are staying at the Kauswagan village are happy with their decision to surrender and you can see that they are satisfied with their choice to return and be reintegrated with the normal community,” Ongchuan said.

Government forces in the region are making sure to meet their target of ending the insurgency problem before the end of this year.

The presence of insurgents in the province is often cited for the slow economic development of Northern Samar which also affects its tourism industry.