ILOILO City – Three towns in Iloilo province will be the next focus of the campaign to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC), according to the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army.
These are the towns of Miag-ao, San Joaquin and Igbaras, all from the 1st District, said Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61IB commander.
The first batch identified as ELCAC areas were the towns of Alimodian, Calinog, Janiuay, Maasin, Lambunao, and Tubungan.
The six towns have all complied with their commitment to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Iloilo to create their respective Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) by the end of November.
“It is already programmed which areas to follow, and these are the towns of Miagao, San Joaquin and Igbaras. In time, it will be the whole of Iloilo because we already have a task force that is focused against communists,” Batara said.
The Army battalion commander said skirmishes and encounters transpired in the towns of Igbaras and Miag-ao in the past months.
Former rebels revealed that these towns were also subject to the recruitment and other activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“The insurgency affectation in these towns is really observed because there are still some who believe that armed rebellion is the solution to the problems,” said Batara.
Like the towns of Alimodian, Calinog, Janiuay, Maasin, Lambunao, and Tubungan, the next three towns are also expected to organize their MTF-ELCAC.
Batara said the efforts of the local chief executives of the three towns against insurgency are already seen especially in its construction of road networks.
“These towns have constructed roads. They really have a goal to end the insurgency. The communist rebels do not like road networks because they would become more accessible to military troops. For us, we know roads are for development because, in due time, the delivery of services will be faster,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the six towns currently hold orientation sessions of the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) or the frontline program in village immersions in bringing the basic services of the government to the public.
“All of them pledged that their MTF-ELCAC will be activated this year,” he said, noting that the Philippine Army is monitoring the activities of the task force. (PNA/PN)