VIGAN CITY, Jan. 20 (PIA) - - Leaders of the Indigenous People (IP) in the different communities in Ilocos Sur has boosted the government efforts to curb insurgency problems in the province.
Elpidio A. Quines, the provincial Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Ilocos Sur, led the 50 IP leaders in expressing their support to the government's campaign against insurgency during the 1st Indigenous People's Forum held in Candon City on January 15, 2020.
The forum was anchored on a theme: "Unity and Solidarity for Peace and Development of Communities." The Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support (PLEDS) cluster of the Ilocos Sur Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) initiated the forum.
To show their full-support on the anti-insurgency campaign for peace and development in the province, the IP leaders signed a covenant during the forum. Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo A. Marinas Jr., the commander of the army's 81st Infantry Battalion, likewise signed the said covenant.
The covenant contains statements denoucning the terroristic activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - New People's Army (NPA) and had declared these groups as Persona Non-Grata in the IP communities in the province.
"I would like to encourage all my fellow IP leaders - from the municipal down to barangay level not to be afraid of fighting for our rights, and not to be afraid of helping the government agencies to end the local communist armed conflict in our communities," said Quines.
"We must work with the Philippine Army and the police for the progress of our community because without peace, there will be no development," Quines added.
Lawyer Marvin Biligan, the head of the provincial office of the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP) in Ilocos Sur, also urged the IP leaders to support the peace initiatives of the army to further end the problem on insurgency in the province.
As of November 20, 2019, reports from the Philippine Army showed that at least 16 barangays in some towns in the 2nd district of Ilocos Sur, Abra and Mountain Province are threatened to be influenced by two groups under the fully-armed New People's Army (NPA) operating in the area. Some of these threatened villages are IP communities.
The army also reported that nine villages in Ilocos Sur were already cleared from the influence of the NPA rebels. These villages include San Antonio, San Jose, Camangaan, all in Sta. Cruz town; Conconig East, Suagayan and Buliclic, all in Sta. Lucia town; Legaspi in Galimuyod; and Tablac and Bugnay, both in Candon City.
Meanwhile, the forum was made possible through the strong collaborative efforts of the army's 81st Infantry Battalion, together with the provincial police office of Ilocos Sur, the NCIP and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
The forum aimed to boost the unity among IPs, as well as to enhance their awareness of the deceptive schemes and atrocities made by the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), especially the recruitment among the youth and students. (JCR/FGL-PIA 1)