Col. Aldwine Almase, brigade commander of the Philippine Army 903rd Infantry Brigade, punctuated the triumph of Masbateños against the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) as a proof that when the government and the people work together, nothing is impossible.
Last May 23, eleven (11) CTG members and three (3) supporters yielded to the combined elements of the 903rd Infantry Brigade’s 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and PNP conducting continuous security operations in Barangay San Antonio, Palanas, Masbate. They also turned in 14 low-powered firearms.
“Years ago, Masbate province was once a stronghold of the CTG. But now, we are seeing a different picture in this island province. If Masbateños can make the communist insurgency irrelevant in their home province, it means that we can also do this in the entire Bicol,” Col. Almase said.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2IB said that the former rebels will now undergo series of debriefing prior to their enrollment in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which was created by President Rodrigo Duterte through his Administrative Order No. 10.
E-CLIP or the Balik-Loob Program, a whole-nation approach by 27 government agencies, welcomes those who have been waylaid by the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists to give up violence, return to the fold of law and restart a new beginning as the reintegrate their families into the community.
Balik-Loob is turning out as the best weapons of the National Task Force for the Elimination of Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) also created by the President through Executive Order No. 70
Major General Henry Robinson Jr PA, commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia summed it all – “It is very rewarding to see how the Bicolanos are now rallying behind us as we press on the fight against insurgency.”
The general added, “The paradigm has shifted proving that the Philippine government is winning the hearts and minds of the people. Whereas before rural communities turned a blind eye on the whereabouts of the communist terrorists for fear that if they got involve they could be wasted, now ordinary citizens are coming forward to blow the whistle on their locations.”
“No military or police intelligence can beat that,” Robinson quipped.
Just for this month of May, thirty-one (31) surrenderers were recorded in Masbate who turned in a total of 21 assorted firearms.