2 Leyte towns declared as completely-free from NPA threats

PALOMPON: The towns of Palompon and Matag-ob in Leyte were declared completely free from the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA) on Friday, the first two municipalities in the province to attain such status.

With no sightings of armed rebels for several years now, the towns achieved the insurgency-free status, officially as stable internal peace and security.

The military and local government held the declaration in Palompon in the morning, while Matag-ob’s event was in the afternoon.

“We are happy that we are the pioneering area declared to have stable internal peace and security. This will encourage businessmen to invest in Palompon,” Mayor Ramon Oñate said.

The last two villages reportedly influenced by the NPA in Palompon were Hinagpuan and Parilla. The last sightings were recorded in 2010, according to the mayor.

The Philippine Army said that it was in 2016 that Palompon and nearby Matag-ob town became free from NPA influence, but there were still remnants of rebel activities.

In 2019, the NPA
‘s Front Committee 42, with over 50 members, was dismantled.

The remaining combatants regrouped and formed Platoon 2.

Today, the NPA unit has only five remaining members roaming the mountains of Carigara and Jaro towns.

Matag-ob Mayor Bernardino Tacoy said they have been waiting for the official declaration to spur economic growth.

‘This is a milestone in our municipality. To be declared peaceful is a good achievement for the people of Matag-ob. This will create economic opportunities, and it will help us fulfill our promise to the people,’ Tacoy said.

San Vicente is the last village in Matag-ob with reported sightings of NPA rebels years ago.

Brig. Gen. Noel Vestuir, commander of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade, said they are stepping up their efforts to completely wipe out insurgencies in Leyte province.

‘We are hunting down the remnants to ensure that they will not recruit new members. The people in the community will benefit from this status,’ he said.

He said such declarations are ne
eded by towns in Eastern Visayas since people in Luzon have the impression that Leyte and Samar provinces are NPA-influenced areas.

Source: Philippines News Agency