AFP: Pampanga insurgency-free-A A +A
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
BACOLOR—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday declared Pampanga “insurgency-free,” the last in the 22 provinces under the area of the Northern Luzon Command to be declared peaceful.
The declaration was formally announced yesterday here by AFP led by its Chief of Staff General Emmanuel T. Bautista, Governor Lilia Pineda and the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Pampanga.
Gen. Bautista was joined by LtGen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Commander of Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom); MGen Hernando DCA Iriberri, Commander of the 7th Infantry Division; and Bgen. Henry G. Sabarre, 703rd Infantry Brigade and other local government officials from the province’s towns and cities.
The officials also signed a signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) declaring the province as "peaceful and ready for further development."
With the MOA, the Philippine National Police will now take the lead role in fighting insurgents with the support of a military that will remain primarily for stakeholder engagement programs, according to the AFP.
The MOA is also a formal demonstration of different local government units and other government agencies to reinvigorate their role in peace and development in their community. This is also a way to accept and assert the local government's lead role in orchestrating the efforts of all agencies and stakeholders in the delivery of services designed to address the primary socio-economic issues.
Pampanga is the last province out of the 22 provinces in the Nolcom area to be declared as peaceful with the constant decline of New People’s Army members and their mass base support.
"We showed here in Pampanga one of our victories against the 45 years of insurgency in the country. We have had the insurgency problem for so long, and so many died and suffered, and many families were broken because of that. Now it is time to end the culture of violence. It is time for us to unite and abandon the armed struggle and time to live in peace and prosperity,” Gen. Bautista said in a statement.
A total of 21 provinces were declared peaceful in the area from 2009 to 2013 with La union and Nueva Viscaya in 2009; Apayao, Aurora, Quirino, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Kalinga in 2010; Ilocos Norte and Benguet in 2011; Zambales, Abra and Bataan in 2012; Batanes, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Cagayan, Ifugao, Bulacan and Mt. Province in 2013. At present, a total of 43 out of 75 provinces nationwide were already normalized, the AFP added.
"The declaration of these provinces as peaceful and ready for further development is a manifestation of the continued support of stakeholders and our people in winning the peace," Lt. Gen. Catapang said in a statement through the AFP.
Pineda, for her part, said that the declaration highlights the province’s responsibility in maintaining peace and order and bringing in the needed development to keep the peace.
“We are tasked to continue the achievement of the AFP in Pampanga. The economic development of Pampanga is directly related to the full development of Pampanga and ensures that peace is kept even in the barangay level,” Pineda said in the vernacular. (Ian Ocampo Flora/Sun.Star Pampanga)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 16.