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MACO, Davao de Oro, December 20 (PIA) – Days before Christmas, a Barangay in Maco, Davao de Oro declared through a resolution, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) as persona non grata. Through a formal declaration on Friday, the residents of Barangay Manipongol, Maco expressed their desire to unwelcome the communist groups in their area by signing in the Barangay Council Resolution No. 10, series of 2019 – the first in the province of Davao de Oro.

Manipongol located around 15 kilometers from the poblacion, was a known stronghold of different armed groups since 1970s. Former barangay captain Lito Makunlay disclosed that two armed groups have settled in the barangay that time, the Bangsamoro Army and the New People’s Army. In his 24-year stint as the village chief from 1983 to 2007, Makunlay said that the armed groups flourished in their area due to some abuses of the military then.

He even has relatives that were recruited by the communist movement and were reported to have been killed in encounters in other provinces. The worst gun battle he recalled was last September 16, 1989 between around 200 NPA members and 60 government forces backed up by four military choppers. The battle forced the residents to evacuate around 12 kilometers away from the village. Until now, people are still residing in the evacuation area, which they now called the Mansaka Village.

Makunlay also bared that due to the persistent mass organization of the left movement, a shadow government was also established and supported the cause of the rebel groups. He said the presence of the armed group slowly diminished, when the military immersed to the barangay for community-based interventions, together with the local government unit. Now, barangay captain Vicente Ibasitas said that to sustain the peace and order in their village, the more than 270 households or around 2,000 residents will help each other to chide off lawless elements disturbing their area, especially the CPP-NDF-NPA.

Mayor Alvera Veronica Rimando commended the barangay residents for the bold declaration, adding that Manipongol will now set the tone for other barangays to have their own pronouncement as well. Despite the signing, Rimando reminded the community to be united saying, “kung naay panaghiusa ug kooperasyon, naay kalinaw.” (if there is unity and cooperations, there is peace.) Rimando also stressed the legacy programs of her administration, which include Maco Unity Card for any financial assistance to be given to Maco residents only, and programs for solo parents and families with differently-abled children. “Rest assured na ang kaning deklarasyon, sugod ra ni. Anaa naman dinhi ang gobiyerno ug army ug kami kanunay na mohatag ug serbisyo kaninyo,” she said. (Rest assured that this declaration is just the start.

We already have here our government and army, who will constantly provide you with services.) In support to the programs of the mayor, Col. John Oberio, commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade, emphasized the whole of government and whole of nation approach encapsulated in the Executive Order 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte to end local communist armed conflicts. “Our President is committed to put an end on this more than 50-year insurgency problem of our nation, pooling all agencies and its government resources.” Oberio also committed to study the placement of a detachment group near the village to assist in the defense system of the barangay and other community development activities.

The brigade commander also urged the community to help the government and the military convince their family, relatives, and friends who are members of the rebel group to surrender. “Daghan nag programa para sa magbalik sa sabakan sa gobiyerno, apil na dinhi ang E-CLIP,” he said. (There are lot of programs for those who are going to go back to the fold of the government, including the E-CLIP.) (PIA 11, Michael Uy)

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