AFP banking on aid projects to continue fight vs rebels
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2014 - 7:18pm

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City - The decline of communist rebels in northern and central Luzon would be “irreversible” because of the development programs to be implemented by the government, a military official said Tuesday.

Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang said while the 22 provinces they are securing have been declared ready for development, the gains could be reversed if people are hungry.

“Peace has a shelf life if our ordinary townsfolk do not feel prosperous… If he feels hungry, there is still probability that he will join the enemy,” Catapang said during the 27th anniversary of NOLCOM

“This is why NOLCOM has shifted its focus to ensure and assist in the efforts so that northern and central Luzon area are ready for more business enterprises and other economic-boosting expansions that guarantee better lives for the locale,” he added.

Catapang said the ongoing programs and infrastructure projects in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera regions would pave way to greater economic prosperity.

“This will further continue the downward trend in the NPA’s (New People’s Army) capabilities in our area of responsibility,” Catapang said.

“Our enemy has reached a level which is now irreversible. The armed insurgents are but remnants of a lost cause,” he added.

In January, the military and local officials have declared Pampanga as insurgency-free, effectively claiming victory against communist rebellion in the entire northern and central Luzon.

Pampanga, said to be the birthplace of insurgency in the Philippines, is the 43rd province to be declared insurgency-free. A total of 32 provinces in the country are still grappling with rebellion.

Military officials previously claimed that the strength of the communist rebels in the country has been reduced to less than 4,000.

Despite its gains against insurgency, NOLCOM, Catapang said, there remain threats such as those posed by disasters.

“Natural disasters, we believe, is the new war that we are facing,” the NOLCOM chief said.

“No matter how progressive and developed our community may be, no one is spared from their impact,” he added.

Catapang said all stakeholders should work together to craft a comprehensive plan on disaster reduction and management.

“We in NOLCOM have initiated shelters inside every camp under our area of responsibility as possible evacuation sites when disaster strikes,” he said.

Military reservists, Catapang said, should play a greater role in preparing for disasters.

 

ARMED FORCES NORTHERN LUZON COMMAND CAGAYAN VALLEY CATAPANG CENTRAL LUZON AND CORDILLERA GREGORIO CATAPANG ILOCOS IN JANUARY LUZON NEW PEOPLE PAMPANGA
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