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Aklan insurgency-free, says military

MANILA, Philippines - The province of Aklan has been declared insurgency-free, with its local government now playing the lead role in maintaining peace and order.

Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said yesterday the declaration was made possible by “people-centered, multi-sector peace and development projects” in the area.

“The threats posed by the insurgents in the province have been addressed as manifested by the negative occurrence of violent incident attributed to them for the past four years,” Burgos said.

“With this, no barangay in the province is classified as insurgent-affected. This is based on the latest intelligence reports,” he said.

Aklan is the 24th province to have been declared insurgency-free. The other provinces are Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Biliran, Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, La Union, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon, Guimaras, Siquijor, Northern Leyte and Southern Leyte.
Once an area is declared insurgency-free, the lead role of maintaining peace and order would be transferred to local officials from the AFP.

Military officials, however, said that such declaration does not necessarily mean zero presence of insurgents.

The AFP and the Aklan provincial government signed last month a resolution stating that the security situation in the area has improved.

“The improved peace and security condition boosted socio-economic agro-industrial and infrastructure development activities in the province of Aklan,” the resolution read.

The signatories of the resolution vowed to work together to promote peace, security and development in the province. They also rejected violence as a means to resolve socio-cultural issues.

Among the signatories of the resolution were Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez, Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Aklan Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-Oc, Aklan Chamber of Commerce president Jose Aldecoa, mayors’ league chairman Ramon Legaspi Jr., Liga ng Barangay Aklan chapter president Edina Gelito, and Integrated Bar of the Philippines Aklan president Flora Almero.

“The AFP as protector of peace and stability will continue to exhaust all its efforts to successfully liberate all remaining provinces from communist insurgency,” said AFP chief Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa in a statement.

The rebels, meanwhile, dismissed the military’s claim as “annual yearend empty bragging” even as they vowed to launch more attacks.

“In the next few weeks and months, the AFP will again be eating its own words as the NPA continues to launch more and more tactical offensives across the archipelago,” the Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement.   
By Alexis Romero The Philippine Star Updated January 04, 2012 12:00 AM


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