No More NPA Rebels in Bohol

The communist insurgency in Bohol has been crushed, making it as the first province in the country to meet the deadline set by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before she steps down in June 2010, according to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

The deadline is to defeat the left-leaning New People's Army (NPA).

The declaration was made by Bohol Governor Erico B. Aumentado and Col. Allan Luga, commander of the 802nd Brigade of the Philippine Army based on the island province some 600 kilometers south of Manila.

OPAPP said Aumentado made the announcement during a meeting at the Bohol Tropics Resort last Tuesday.

The session was attended by a delegation from Columbia's Office of the High Commissioner for Peace led by Alejandro Eder, political advisor of the Office of the High Presidential Counselor for Reintegration.

Other members of the Columbian delegation were Miguel Suarez, Ms. Maria Lucia Uepigue and Ms. Andrea Salazar.

While in Bohol, they interviewed former rebels and local officials from the towns of Danao, Sagbayan and Carmen where they were briefed on the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government being implemented by the OPAPP under Secretary Annabelle T. Abaya.

They were also given an overview of the Philippine experience in containing insurgency through its highly-tested clear-hold-consolidate and develop strategy.

When Aumentado was elected governor in 2001, he ordered a sustained development effort, particularly in the countryside to bring the government closer to the people.

With the help of the military and police in clearing rebel-infested areas, the program proved to be a very successful strategy that eventually broke the backbone of the NPA operating in the province.

The national government, through OPAPP, activated the SIP, ensuring rebel returnees of livelihood.

A rebel who surrenders will be granted P20,000 cash to start a small business for the sustenance of his family.

Under the SIP, a rebel who yields an M16 or M14 rifle will be given P50,000 and another P50,000 in kind such as water buffalo, hand tractor, tricycle or the like if a returnee qualifies after undergoing skills training conducted by government agencies.

Luga also briefed the Columbian visitors on how the communist movement had grown in the province of Bohol in the early 1980s and how it was crushed over a nine-year anti-insurgency drive launched in 2001 using the clear-hold-consolidate and develop strategy.

From a high of 436 rebels operating in Bohol in 2001, the NPA strength was down to zero at the end of October 2009.

"There are no more armed NPA rebels in Bohol. We have not monitored any rebel movement either," Luga said.

He also said that all the 115 barangays under the influence of the NPA in 2001 have been cleared.

Aside from conducting security operations, the military also helped in the construction of 24 school buildings in far-flung areas in Bohol that enabled thousands of children to go to school.

Luga cited the program of Aumentado that focused on the eradication of poverty incidence in the province.

"Poverty incidence was lowered from 53.6 percent to 23.2 percent in a matter of five years and continues to improve," Luga said in his briefing.

"Bohol's success story on counterinsurgency is attributed to sincere and good governance and the strong political will of Boholano leaders to curb poverty," he said.

Luga likewise cited that the booming tourism industry in Bohol "is also attributed to good governance and the improving peace/security situation in the province."

Another big factor that helped the government crush the communist insurgency in the province was the activation of the Bohol Local Integrated Security System (BLISS) and social integration grants ordered by Aumentado to "negate enemy resurgence in the province," he added.

"There is definitely no military solution to an insurgency. The key is the partnership of the local government and other stakeholders," Luga said.

Terminating hostilities with rebel groups is one of the "Beat the Odds" program enunciated by President Arroyo before she steps down in office in 2010.

The others are balanced the budget, education for all, automated elections, transportation and digital infrastructure, heal the wounds of EDSA I, II and III, electricity and water for all, opportunities for livelihood and ten million jobs, decongestion of Metro Manila and develop Subic and Clark.

The "Lambat Bitag" counter-insurgency program launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shortly after the 1986 EDSA revolt, dealt a heavy blow to the NPA.

From a peak of 25,800 in 1986, the NPA strength was down to less than 5,000 at the end of June 2009.

The decline of the NPA in Bohol started when Epitacio Ramirez, alias Commander Vargas, surrendered in 2002 after 27 years in the communist movement.

Some 200 followers of Vargas followed suit and also returned to the fold of law over a seven-year period, dwindling the NPA fighters operating in the province.

The Bohol provincial government also gave a resettlement area for former rebels in addition to the various livelihood programs. (PNA)

Catigbian Bohol Socialized Medicare Service

Catigbian town puts in another innovation worth replicating by local government units: a socialized health service incorporated in a local system called the yellow card. 

By passing Municipal Ordinance Number 6, series of 2009, the town has also successfully institutionalized a program that has become prime tool for some local chief executives who want a sole credit making it appear that he is using his own money to aid his constituents.  

We need to put up a measure that would stop future leaders from appointing his political supporters as beneficiaries, all to the disadvantage of those seriously needing the help, Mayor Roberto Salinas stressed. 

The Yellow Card Ordinance is our humble way of providing the best health care and at the same time sustain the operations of the new Municipal Health Center and Lying in Clinic, Salinas said. 

But considering that we have indigent constituents who would also need to avail of its offered basic medical and health services, we need to identify who these people that the town's meager health aid fund can help, the retired navy captain now steering an agricultural town to its loftiest development record explained. 

Even if out 1,151 indigents of the town can availed of the PhilHealth Out-patient benefit package while some 4,094 households can avail of the free medical services while enrolled in the government socialized medical benefit program, there is a rather huge need to serve those who still could not avail of the same benefits, he claimed.  

He said the yellow card ordinance defines those indigents and issue to the household head the card which makes him and his dependents eligible for the socialized services at the local rural health center. 

Card holders and dependents can avail of free or discounted services including consultations, medicines, laboratory diagnostics and ambulance services, the ordinance showed. 

The ordinance also puts up a body that would identify the beneficiaries according to an inset established criteria or categorization, validation and enrollment or registration until all poor beneficiaries can be hopefully covered, the mayor continued. 

According to the measure, criteria for availment would be based on annual household income over dependents and compared to the annual subsistence threshold of P6,000 or more but lesser than the pegged national poverty threshold of P9,000 per annum. 

The ordinance also puts up a validating mechanism based on housing, source of income, education and landholding. (PIA) 

Anti Illegal Firearms in Bohol Philippines

Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) accounted a total of 1096 fire-arms in its drives since August to September to top all the regional police offices in the implementation of the National Firearms Control Program (NFCP) or Bilang Boga, data from the Central Visayas Regional Police Office revealed.

Meanwhile Cebu Provincial Police Office beat BPPO in active anti-illegal firearms interdiction operations or operation Kontra Boga net when it accounted for 433 in the last four months of operations.
 
Operations Bilang Boga and Kontra Boga are active police operations to account and recover the estimated forty nine thousand one hundred thirty six loose firearms in line with the NFCP.
 
It also brought down the final gun registration and licensing amnesty to advance the government's desire to get loose firearms which often end up being used in criminal activities.

The number for BPPO was 25.90 percent of the estimated 4,232 loose firearms from threat groups and criminal elements or those basically un-renewed in the last years, explains PInspector John Gano, Camp Dagohoy Information Officer.

While topping the charts in Bilang Boga operations, or accounting for the loose firearms, Bohol garnered third place in the operation Kontra Boga or the anti-loose fire-arms interdiction operations
 
BPPO police operatives only accounted 44 firearms during the same period.
 
BPPO contended with Cebu Provincial Police Office, Cebu City Police Office, Lapulapu City Police Office, Mandaue City Police Office, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office and Siquijor Provincial Police Office.
 
Over the achievement, outgoing police director PSsupt Edgardo Ingking said he was just happy that his men delivered and seriously cascaded the national gun amnesty campaign in their areas.
 
Ranking next to Bohol in Bilang Boga Operation is Siquijor Provincial Police Station, the province with the least criminality ratio in Central Visayas.
 
Siquijor scored seventy two firearms, all of them unrenewed in the last years over the estimated three hundred thirty seven loose fire arms in the island
 
In Central Visayas, Cebu Province has the most number of loose firearms at 14,143, followed by Cebu City at 13,585.  

However, Cebu City and Cebu Provincial Offices only managed to score 15.27 and a measly 3.79 percent respectively.
 
For operation Bilang Boga, following Bohol and Siquijor are Cebu City Police Office, Manadue City Police Office, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, Cebu Provincial Police Office and Lapulapu City Police Office.
 
In Kontra Boga, tailing Cebu Provincial Police Office is Cebu City Police Office, Bohol Provincial Police Office, Siquijor Provincial Police Office, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office while both Lapulapu City and Mandaue City Police offices score even at sixth. (PIA)