Army protects, develops communities to keep insurgents at bay

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To weaken the operations of communist terrorist groups, the Army’s 58th Infantry Division (58IB) is eradicating insurgent resources and developing towns within its area of jurisdiction in Misamis Oriental region.

Rebels from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) are known to exploit the private and economic sectors, according to Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy, commander of the 58IB. However, the Army will defend them while supporting peace and development efforts, he said.

“We will continue our campaign here in Misamis Oriental so they would not be able to cause chaos and create tactical offensive,” he said in a live-streamed briefing on Saturday night with Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security Region 10 head and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar.

Canatoy said that the 58IB, in collaboration with the Claveria Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, works with various government line agencies, local government representatives, and private stakeholders to help indigenous peoples (IPs) return to their homes after being displaced by CPP-NPA forces.

“Upon the continuous efforts of the 58IB, we saw that these people really needed our help because for so long, we have overlooked them. Because they live in far-flung areas, we can show how sincere the government is in bringing peace back to the area by helping them,” he said.

Currently, the Army unit is providing infrastructure, security, and agricultural development to the Higaonon IP community of Sitio Kalhaan.

The Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which encourages rebels to start a new life free of violence and strife, is also promoted. They are provided with cash aid, job training, and government services.

“As of the moment, about 80 percent of them (former rebels) have received their E-CLIP benefits. Some of them have even received almost a million pesos because of firearms remuneration. We have helped so many former rebels,” Canatoy said.

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have all designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

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