Army: NPA rebel population in DavOr continues to plunge

The number of the New People’s Army in Davao Oriental dropped significantly from February 2017 up to March of 2018.

According to Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion, they monitored only 93 communist guerrillas operating in the area this year compared to the 299 last year.
“We have reduced them by 80 percent we could not have done that without the relationship of the governor and mayor, and the help of Barangay and municipal officials,” he said, adding that the role of the peace volunteers is instrumental in protecting the indigenous communities in the province.
On Saturday, around 150 peace volunteers graduated from the four-day training and seminar during the ceremony conducted at Sitio Batiano, Barangay Salingkumot, Caraga, Davao Oriental on Saturday.
He said they’ve proven the effectiveness of the program since there were zero atrocities committed by the NPA in the area since July of last year.
“Unlike other provinces and municipalities, the pride of the Mandaya is (evident),” he said. “Unlike other tribes, they are fighting against communism and terrorism.”
The peace volunteers came from NPA-affected areas, and the military doesn’t provide them with firearms. Instead, they will defer to the customary laws of the Lumad political structure. In this case, the protection of the ancestral domains will still be led by the baganis (warriors).
“The baganis are the defenders of the ancestral domain,” he explained.
He said the peace volunteers have their own indigenous weapons which are used only within their ancestral domain area.
“They have spears, and weapons to defend themselves against the animals, intruders. These are being used for hunting to source out their food, ” he added.
He said tribal communities should never be afraid of the NPA because the rebels are just a small band of armed men. One positive step is the fact that residents are coming forward to become peace volunteers and secure the ancestral domain. They will also serve as ambassadors to raise awareness on the need to protect and nurture the natural resources.
Tribal chief Kalig-onan said the peace and development volunteers will help establish order and security in the community.
In total, Obligado said around 700 peace development volunteers already graduated in the first district of Davao Oriental from Manay to Caraga, Baganga, Cateel, Boston, and Lingig in Surigao del Sur except in Tarragona.
The five-day training of the volunteers is divided into modules. Among these are modules in livelihood, government in action (government agencies), people empowerment (first responders when emergency), plan-making and deployment, and good citizenship.

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