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319 NPA-affected brgys ‘cleared’

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Army soldiers and members of Civil Society Organization distribute school supplies to children at the formerly rebel infested Sitio Madaja in Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City.* PA photo

Three hundred nineteen insurgency affected barangays in Regions 6, 7 and 8, have been declared “cleared” this year by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Visayas Command, through the implementation of Community Support Programs (CSP) of the Army’s 3rd and 8th Infantry Divisions.

CSP is a flagship program of the AFP being used to clear communities of NPA infestation. It involves the immersion of Army personnel in identified barangays, to conduct various community engagements geared toward addressing the needs of the people.

Of the 319 barangays, 310 are in Eastern Visayas and nine in Western Visayas.

Major Gen. Benedict Arevalo, acting commander of the AFP Visayas Command, said that the “CSP serves as a bridge that brings the government closer to the people in far-flung communities.”

It is the AFP’s contribution to the government’s whole-of-nation approach, wherein military personnel are immersed in the community to identify and validate issues that are exploited by the CPP-NPA in order to agitate the people and persuade them to go against the government, Arevalo said, stressing further that such issues are brought to the attention of the concerned government agencies for appropriate action.

He added that CSP allows the government to send its message of peace and reconciliation to the members of the communist terrorists, through their families and friends in the community.

This will give us the opportunity to address their grievances while encouraging them to return to the folds of the law, Arevalo also said.

The 319 barangays will undergo validation from the Joint Peace and Security Coordination Center (JPSCC) at the national level. Once validated, these barangays can be recommended as beneficiaries of the Support to Barangay Development Program (BDP).

The BDP is a program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that is anchored on the CSP.*

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