(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Wednesday, 24 April 2024) Easterlies affecting the country. Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Easterlies/Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—œπ—‘π—— 𝗔𝗑𝗗 π—–π—’π—”π—¦π—§π—”π—Ÿ π—ͺπ—”π—§π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Light to moderate winds coming from East to Southeast will prevail with slight to moderate seas (0.6 to 2.1 meters).

Monday, 18 March 2024

Insurgency finally ends in Surigao Norte

By Renelle Escuadro

BUTUAN CITY (PIA) – Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. has declared the province of Surigao del Norte insurgency-free.

Teodoro was the keynote speaker in the ceremony where the formal declaration was made. Other high-profile personalities who attended the ceremony were Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin C.  Abalos Jr., National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Executive Director Ernesto C. Torres Jr., and General Romeo B. Brawner Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“I am very proud of this historic declaration. This will not happen if not for you Surigaonons, who said that you don’t want it anymore and that you sincerely want insurgency to end in the province,” Teodoro said.

The last batch of surrenderees, composed of thirty-seven friends rescued (FRs), were presented on the declaration and pronouncement of Surigao del Norte as an insurgency-free province. Fourteen are for awarding, 15 of them are in process and eight are newly surrendered. Photo courtesy of 4DPAO.

The defense secretary shared the instruction of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to create a multi-threat arm force that will be capable of addressing both internal and external threats.  

“Today, our main focus is to re-orient, re-train, re-equip, and re-strategize how the department and  the armed forces manage and do things. We are expecting the DILG, with direct contact on governance, to allow the armed forces greater latitude to do its principal mission of defending our territorial integrity and sovereignty rights of the State,”  Teodoro added.

DILG Sec. Abalos highlighted the activity by welcoming the 37 FRs who chose peace and returned to the government, stating, “Every week rebels surrender to the government because of the strong collaboration of the local government units and other government agencies."

He emphasized that collaboration should not end during the surrender of the rebels, reiterating that "we are mandated to help and take care of them and to ensure they will have livelihood, their children can go to school, and be equipped with the right skills to live a productive life."

The friends rescued, who also composed the last batch of surrenderees in the province of Surigao del Norte, received different financial assistance from the government that will help them reintegrate smoothly into mainstream society.

Each of them received a check for P65,000 from the DILG under its Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) as immediate financial and livelihood assistance. Each also received hygiene kits, mosquito nets, and vitamins from the Department of Health (DOH) Caraga, P10,000 from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and another P5,000 from Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert S. Lyndon Barbers.

In his message, Torres of the NTF-ELCAC said, "We finally found the formula for solving insurgency by looking into the root causes. It takes a long time, and we thought that this day of reckoning would remain a dream, but we are able to do the impossible. And with the help of everyone, we have weakened the guerrilla fronts in the whole of Mindanao. Thus, we express our heartfelt congratulations to Surigao del Norte province, as it is a testament to good governance."

Torres also reiterated to the key lead agencies of NTF-ELCAC to stay vigilant and sustain the whole-of-nation approach to prevent the return of terrorism in the province.

He announced the construction of a one-stop shop peace center in the province, with the approved conversion of the halfway houses, to better assist the FRs in their reintegration journey.

Elisa D. Evangelista-Lapana, head of Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Local Conflict Transformation-Field Implementation Support Unit (OPAPRU-LCT-FISU) in Mindanao, commended  the leaders of Surigao del Norte for practicing good governance.

“Kining Surigao del Norte ganhan mi mo-partner diri nga probinsya kay ang amo peace efforts and resources dili masayang,” Lapana said in her message of commitment.

[We like to partner with Surigao del Norte because our peace efforts and resources will not be put to waste.]

The dignitaries, during the declaration and pronouncement of Surigao del Norte as insurgency-free province on March 15, 2024 in Surigao City, showed their signed Pledge of Commitment for Peace. They pledged to "commit to work in ensuring a just society where every individual has equal opportunities and protection under the law and to relentlessly carry out counter-insurgency initiatives in pursuit of permanent peace and sustainable development.” (Photo of PIA-SDN)

In his message of acceptance, Gov. Barbers said that the official declaration and formal pronouncement of Surigao del Norte as an insurgency-free province is a giant milestone.

“The place we call home finally now has stable internal peace and security. We embraced dialogue over discord, understanding over ignorance, and cooperation over conflict; in doing so, we transformed the province into a beacon of hope and inspiration for the entire country,” he said.

The governor cited the barangay health workers who were afraid to go to remote and far-flung barangays in the province, as they were approached by communist terrorists in the areas.

“We invited them today so they may know that they can now safely deliver the healthcare services of the government to these barangays,” he assured.

The declaration and pronouncement of Surigao del Norte as insurgency-free province was based on the issuance of Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) Resolution No. 11-2023, entitled “Affirming the Declaration of Weakened Northland, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee as Dismantled.”

Its Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and Provincial Development Council (PDC) further issued Joint PPOC-PDC Resolution No. 01, series of 2024 which declared the province in a state of stable internal peace and security. (RLE/PIA-Caraga)