13 North Cotabato barangays cleared from NPAs
Residents of central Mindanao have lately been so vocal against the presence of the New People's Army in their municipalities.
Philstar.com/John Unson

13 North Cotabato barangays cleared from NPAs

John Unson (Philstar.com) - February 18, 2021 - 10:02am

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines — Authorities have declared 13 interior barangays in North Cotabato province liberated from occupation by the New People’s Army through inter-agency humanitarian and security interventions.

Gov. Nancy Catamco said Thursday the feat was confirmed by officials from the Police Regional Office-12 and the Army’s 10th Infantry Division during an online conference Wednesday.

The joint area clearing and validation board meeting, where other security issues besetting North Cotabato were also discussed, was facilitated jointly by Catamco, who is chairperson of the provincial peace and order council, and key regional police and military officials.

Catamco said residents of Bituan, Banayal, Nabundasan, Tuburan, Magbok and Daig in Tulunan, and in Santa Felomina, Santo Niño, Luayon, Malasila, Cabilao, Malungon and Malabuan, all in Makilala, will no longer be trapped in any crossfire between NPAs and pursuing state security forces.

“We ought to thank all sectors who helped us achieve this,” Catamco said.

There were recurring troubles in the 13 barangays in North Cotabato’s Makilala and Tulunan towns until sustained diplomatic interventions by the office of Catamco, the 10th ID and PRO-12 gained headway in recent months, causing the decline of NPA forces in both towns.

The multi-sector, inter-agency peace-building programs in the North Cotabato barangays once occupied by NPAs were part of the End Local Communist Armed Conflict, or ELCAC initiative of Malacañang.

The area clearing and validation board meeting Wednesday among provincial officials, the police and military were parallel with ELCAC’s security thrusts, according to Catamco.

Lt. Col Jeoffrey Carangdang, representing 10th ID, said during the meeting that there is leeway now for the implementation of more socio-economic projects needed to hasten the recovery of residents in the 13 barangays from adverse effects of armed conflicts.

Col. Noman Alcovindas, also from the 10th ID, and two representatives from PRO-12, Col. Borbon Limson and Lt. Col Peter Pinalgan Jr., also participated in the online conference.

Brig. Gen. John Michael Dubria, police director for Region 12, said Thursday credit for the initial dividends gained by the ELCAC program in North Cotabato has to go to the provincial government and local officials in the municipalities of Tulunan and Makilala.

“It was them who worked hard for the ELCAC to take off in the province,” Dubria said. 

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