By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) is targeting to declare Negros Island in a state of Stable Internal Peace and Security (SIPS) in the first quarter of this year.
According to the 3ID, one of the significant factors is the dismantling of all guerrilla fronts (GFs) of Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR-NCBS) operating in the island and the absence of major violence and incidents perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area for more than a year.
On October 9, 2023, Central Negros 1 (CN1) was declared dismantled, followed by Central Negros 2 (CN2) on November 13, 2023. Both the South East Front (SEF) and Northern Negros Front (NNF) were dismantled on April 6, 2021, according to the 3ID.
On February 1 this year, the South West Front (SWF) was also declared dismantled at the Visayas Command level as per the result of the Area Clearing Validation Committee, and it awaits joint resolution from the National Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center.
These developments were due to the collaborative efforts of concerned government agencies, local government units, private sectors, and the Negrenses, the Army said.
Since 2023 to the present, the 3ID has successfully cleared a total of 219 barangays from the influence of NPA through the continuous implementation of the Community Support Program (CSP).
Out of these barangays, 145 were located in Negros Island. Among the 145 formerly insurgency-ridden barangays, 121 have already received the Barangay Development Program (BDP) projects, which is a hallmark initiative of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), with the end goal of bringing development and delivering various government programs to conflict-afflicted and geographically isolated villages that have been considered “cleared” from the influence of the NPA.
During this period, the 3ID has also launched a total of 96 engagements. Among these, 54 occurred in Negros Island, with seven classified as major engagements.
These major encounters led to the surrender of 167 individuals. Out of these surrenders, 58 were identified as mass supporters, 109 as members of the NPA, and 86 came from Negros. These engagements also resulted in the capture of 185 firearms, including 46 from Negros Island.
The relentless anti-insurgency efforts of the 3ID, backed up by intensified inter-agency efforts and community engagements, have crippled the activities of the NPA in Negros, as this resulted in a notable decrease in major incidents initiated by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA during the recorded period.
However, despite these significant gains, the 3ID remains persistent in pursuing the remnants of the dismantled GFs to render them inconsequential.
In his message, Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander, stressed that the said declaration will further strengthen and empower the local government units, including the local government agencies, in the performance of their respective mandates in pursuit of just and lasting peace.
“With our firm resolve and commitment in this collective effort, declaring the entire Negros Island in a state SIPS is not impossible,” Sison said, as he enjoins everyone to support them in this endeavor.
Sison said they are more than determined to end the local communist armed conflict in Negros in order to achieve genuine peace and progress for the Negrenses.