LEGAZPI CITY --- The government campaign to end insurgency in the country is now in full steam with the backing of members of the Bicol Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC).
Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, RPOC chair, said the creation of a Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELAC) would boost the delivery of basic services in identified insurgency stronghold areas.
“The local government’s units would play a crucial role and do its share in relieving hundreds of villages in Bicol from the bondage of insurgency and poverty,” Rosal said.
He said military authorities have identified 277 Bicol villages that are still considered as communist lairs and poverty-stricken areas.
Military data show that 50 of these villages are in Albay and hundreds more are spread all over the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon.
Rosal stressed these areas are in dire need of basic government services that have yet to reach their communities, such as social and health, land reform, potable water, irrigation, and public works.
He said these problems have not been addressed by the government, thus making these remote villages as breeding grounds for insurgency.
Rosal in an interview said local government units would be in the front line once the problems had been identified and appropriate programs are to be implemented.
He said there set of strategies to address the issue one that will seek to clear, hold, consolidate and then develop the area where the military component has a very crucial role in these aspects.
Military authorities have admitted that the insurgency problem could not be addressed by them but it needs concerted efforts from the national agencies, and to the local government units.
Rosal said with the creation of the RTF-ELAC poverty issues and the delivery of government services would be expedited as programs from the national government or agencies would be downloaded to the regions, provinces, town, cities and into the villages.
Once the funds are downloaded, local government units would take charge of the projects and see to it that these are implemented based on standards and in given time frame.
Rosal said after crafting a development plan for over 200 insurgency hot spots, some P300 million initial fund would be released for socio-economic projects in these areas.
Records indicate that the insurgency problem in the country had been ongoing for the past five decades, pulling the country down, politically and economically.
Military data also indicate that in ’60s insurgency started with only 12 people which included Jose Maria Sison. The number grew to 29,000-strong New People’s Army (NPA) in 1986, at the height of the Marcos dictatorship.
To date, military statistics indicate that there are still 3,000 NPA rebels across the country.
Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Adviser and Director-General of the National Security Council (NSC) and Secretary Eduardo Ano of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) failed to keynote the regional orientation program on localizing EO 70 and sent instead their respective representatives.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Information Communication Technology (DICT) Gregorio Honasan, concurrent Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD) in Bicol, on Monday told members of the regional development council (RDC) that good governance, the delivery of health, food, clothing, and shelter are the factors that should address the insurgency problem in Bicol.
“Let us unite to end insurgency,” he stressed.
Honasan said Bicol would be in the forefront in carrying out the EO79 campaign. “Bicol is very advance in implementing EO70 that such experience would be made a prototype for nationwide implementation.”
He admitted that fighting insurgency and poverty is an effort of everybody but under the EO, the LGUs stand in the frontlines.
“LGUs have to be supported for them to hold the line not only in terms of fighting poverty but also in maintaining peace and order,” the former Bicol senator said.
Honasan plans to improve internet connectivity in Bicol by putting up additional 1,000 MBPS to the existing 200 Mbps connectivity here.
The President’s (Duterte’s) marching orders is to connect to “everybody,” with cheaper if not free and more secure internet in Bicol by the end of the year, he said.
“We will connect in every far-flung village, kahit walang botante doon, kahit isang tao lamang ang nandoon,” Honasan said.