The areas of known New People’s Army (NPA) presence in Palawan has been contained in 22 barangays that remain classified by the local military as “threatened”.

The Provincial Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC), in a press conference on Friday, said the number is down from a previous high of 69 barangays, and that all are in the southern municipalities.

PTF-ELCAC listed the “threatened barangays” as follows:

  • Quezon town: Malatgao, Panitian, Tagusao, Calumpang, Quinlogan
  • Rizal town: Ransang, Panalingaan, Iraan, Candawaga and Culasian
  • Bataraza town: Tarusan, Culandanum, Bulalacao and Marangas
  • Sofronio Espanola town: Panitian, Pulot Interior, Labog and Punang
  • Brooke’s Point town: Calasaguen, Maasin, Mainit and Aribungos

Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Adm. Rene Medina said they worked early this year to clear northern Palawan of NPA presence.

“Early of this year, we had focused military operations particularly in the north. The purpose was to cut off the supplies to the south and in Mindoro, kaya inuna natin ang north,” Medina said.

“Ang purpose niyan is to shove away pabalik sa Mindoro ang supposedly NPA. Kaya kung titingnan natin ang mga barangay na nasa threatened, influenced and less influenced ay from the north. Sila ang una nating na-clear, particularly in San Vicente and sa Paly,” he added.

Medina also said they are targeting to clear all the remaining areas in Palawan by March 2020.

“Mostly sa mga nag-susurrender ngayon mostly sa Paly galing, mga group, the member from Pamalakaya (Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya), so ngayon ang naiwan na lang ang KLG (Kilusang Larangang Guerilla) south. Ito ‘yong 22 threatened barangays. We are hoping na next year, matagal na siguro ‘yong March 31,” he said.

Medina added that the cleared communities in Northern Palawan will be the target areas for their Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).

He said RCSP identifies the conditions in the communities and facilitate government interventions.

Meanwhile, 3rd Marine Brigade (MBDe) commander Brig. Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan said that in order to sustain the cleared areas, the RCSP should be implemented fully and the local government should work with them hand-in-hand.

“Yong RCSP at ‘yong ELCAC pati ang munisipyo dapat tuloy tuloy ang pagbibigay ng mga serbisyo, pagbibigay ng mga tulong, sa ating mga barangay. Kasi, otherwise babalik doon uli ang mga insurgents sa lugar,” he said.

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Jayra Joyce Cañete Taboada handles the law and order and the science and education beats. She is also a licensed professional teacher.