“An insurgency-free province means that there is already a very favorable peace and order condition”
The Army’s 702nd Infantry Brigade and the Pangasinan Provincial Police Office (PPO), in a joint recommendation, endorsed the declaration of Pangasinan, one of the biggest provinces in the country, as “insurgency free.”
The government continues to gain ground against the New People’s Army (NPA) in Pangasinan with 22 rebels returning to the fold of the law.
Maj. Gen. Felimon Santos, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division (ID), said declaring the province free from armed rebels can spur its further development.
Santos also attributed the success of the campaign to public support and the government’s peace and security efforts.
“An insurgency-free province means that there is already a very favorable peace and order condition which were verified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed in the area,” Santos said.
“The declaration of the province as insurgency free is necessary to further spur its unhampered march towards progress while keeping the commitment of the Philippine Army and PNP to continue its effort in sustaining and preserving peace and order in the province,” he added.
In Bicol, no less than Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. welcomed 22 NPA rebels who surrendered.
Galvez met with the rebel-returnees, led by NPA platoon leader Jeffrey Benzon, at the headquarters of the Army’s 903rd Brigade.
The military said latest report indicated that 70 percent of the NPA regular members in Bicol have already surrendered.
“The current trend of NPA surrenderors in the Bicol area accounts to 70 percent of their total strength in Bicol. We encourage others to follow. It is not a shooting war that will bring us peace in this area,” Galvez said.
“Peaceful and compassionate efforts is the best alternative to ending this decades old security challenge. Congratulations for making the bold decision of ending your armed struggle. Welcome back fellow Filipinos,” he added.