Gov’t officials in Samar’s NPA hotbed vow to end insurgency

Published January 22, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Marie Tonette Marticio 

TACLOBAN City – Officials of a conflict-stricken town in Samar province expressed optimism that they could finally end criminality and decades-long insurgency with the support of the village officials.

Matuguinao Mayor Aran Boller, in a peace advocacy caravan, said that crimes and the presence of the New People’s Army were the major roadblocks against development in the fifth class town with 60 percent poverty rate based on the survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

New People’s Army (MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are known for crimes, insurgency–everything is here, but we have a dream for peace and development. We should not allow the NPAs to enter here in Matuguinao. We’ve had enough of deception,” he said.

P/Col. Andre Dizon, Samar Police Provincial Director said the police and army were just waiting for reports and wee ready to take action against the enemies of the state.

“We just hope that more people will guard our roads against bombs because terrorism doesn’t recognize any religion and government,” he said.

Although the NPAs no longer recruit in the area that only serves as a passage to other towns in Samar Island, Boller said that he was aware that some village officials still support the NPAs out of fear. He also disclosed that five out of 20 villages were still being visited by the armed group.

“I know that barangay officials are afraid. I am not telling you to engage in a gun battle with them, but you have to report their presence to authorities instead of feeding them because they will keep coming back just like animals,” he noted.

He added that those who will continue to support the NPAs could face consequences.

Col. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the 801st Brigade said that they are angry at the NPAs because they are their enemies, but they abhor those who are part of the government who support them.

“They are terrorists so they are not welcome. Peacefully resist them, but the most important thing is to report them,” he stressed.

Boller likewise urged Batakang Organisasyon han Partido (BOP) BOP and Yunit Militia (YM) members to surrender within three months before the full implementation of Executive Order 70 (EO 70) in their town.

The official who survived an ambush attack in Catbalogan City by alleged NPAs disclosed the threats against his life but maintained that he wants to leave a legacy to promote development and education among his constituents.

“Do not wait for the government to be mad at you. Return to the folds of the law because I know that your hearts and minds have been poisoned by the ideology. I know that I am the only mayor here speaking against the NPAs, but it’s a shame that you let me live when you ambushed me in Catbalogan,” he said.

From a four-hour boat trip from the highway in Gandara town, Matuguinao can now be reached in only 30 minutes from Samar Island’s main road in 2018 after the completion of 21-kilometer Gandara-Matuguinao Road opening and concreting project through a PHP720 million fund from the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.

Within the first 100 days of his term, the local government declared the Communist-terrorist group as “persona non grata” which convinced hundreds of NPA supporters to abandon the communist ideology.