By Jennifer P. Rendon
The Philippine Army and several local government units in Iloilo formally sent off 12 Community Support Program (CSP) to villages in the province’s southern area.
Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st Infantry Battalion commander, said they will be deploying a total of 24 CSP teams.
But ahead of the full deployment, each town conducted their respective send-off ceremonies with Miag-ao doing it on January 25; San Joaquin on January 26; Tubungan on January 27; and Leon on January 28.
THE CSP is “a people-centered program, which aims to bring peace and development in conflict-affected barangays.” It is an initiative of our state forces to bring the government closer to the people through an immediate delivery of basic services, especially to grassroots communities.
Batara said the CSP teams will act as facilitators in addressing the issues on the exploitation of the communist terrorists in the communities in collaboration with various national government agencies (NGAs), local government agencies (LGAs), LGUs, and other stakeholders.
The areas where they will be deployed are classified as Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS).
Batara said Miagao, San Joaquin and Tubungan in Iloilo’s 1st congressional district and Leon of the 2nd district of Iloilo are categorized as affected areas by the New People’s Army (NPA).
“These are the areas where they constantly conduct their terroristic attacks and ambushes against the government troops,” he said.
These villages were also subjected “to threats and extortion activities on the business sectors; and recruitment of minors and students,” Batara added.
The said towns have already passed a resolution declaring the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata (unwelcome).
During the send-off ceremony, municipal mayors and village chairpersons signed a certificate of acceptance.
Mayor Macario Napulan of Miagao; Mayor Ninfa Garin of San Joaquin; Mayor Roquito Tacsagon of Tubungan; and Mayor Ma. Lina Holipas of Leon were present during the send-off ceremony.
Inspection of troops followed the certificate signing.
Batara lauded the four mayors for their active participation to weed out insurgency in their area.
For Napulan, the CSP is an opportunity for the people to know the real reason why the NPA exists.
“Indi ta mabal-an ang problema kung indi kita magparapit sa tawo kag mag estorya gid sa mga pumuloyo sa barangay,” he said.
Batara said the CSP aims to bridge the gap between the government and the people, and for the government to deliver its services even up to the far-flung communities.
“As we deploy our CSP teams to these communities, we will also conduct insurgency awareness programs to provide correct information to our vulnerable sectors. That’s why our parents and village chairmen have critical roles in terms of advocating and protecting our youth and students,” he said.
Batara said they would also conduct localized peace engagements to convince NPA remnants to surrender and avail the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for them to start a new and normal life.