The 67th Infantry Battalion conducting Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) in the First District of Davao Oriental denounced the accusations of the Communist Party of the
and New People’s Army
(CPP-NPA)against the 67IB alleged violations of the AFP’s unilateral one-month
suspension of military operations (SOMO) in the observance of Yuletide season. Philippines
PDOP is part of the “Whole of Government Approach” to resolve issues on the ground especially those that directly affect the peace and development situation in the area. Peace and Development Teams (PDTs) of 67th Infantry Battalion were already deployed in post-conflict areas (PCAs) of Boston, Cateel, Baganga and Caraga, Davao Oriental and continuously conducting peace advocacy and development programs, project and activities in those remote areas which are considered “susceptible to CNN recruitment through intimidations and fears” long before the AFP’s announcement of the SOMO on December 18, contrary to the allegations of the NPA.
The deployment of PDTs is highly supported and appreciated by the different Local Government Units (LGUs) and their constituents as manifested in their Letter of Acceptance and the voluntarily executed Pledge of Support to the AFP soldiers presence in those areas.
During this season of Christmas, gift-giving of food packs for the residents, slippers and backpacks for the children is part of the yearly activity of this Battalion to share something to our less-privileged countrymen.
Normally, the PDTs activities in PCAs are community assistances such as the delivery of different livelihood trainings and support like Staple Food Production (Corn/Gulayan/Cassava/Peanuts), Livestocks Raising, Fishponds, Small-scale business/IGP ventures, distribution of different farm input seedlings to the populace and also related capability trainings on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) to prepare them in the event of calamities.
Likewise, the AFP does the linkaging works on the facilitation of Agricultural Post-harvest equipment, conduct of Medical/Dental Mission, Community-based projects like the Water System,
and ‘Pabahay’ Programs. These are all “continuing programs” as we focus on
addressing the needs of the people and capacitate them to be development-ready
in tandem with concerned LGU and other government agencies in the area. Extension Schools
PDTs in Barangay Malibago were already in the area since second quarter of the year to secure the ongoing road rehabilitation from Barangay Taytayan to Sitio Patong of Barangay Malibago which is a joint PLGU/MLGU/AFP effort while PDTs in Sitio Bangas, Barangay Mainit were conducting Needs Assessment Surveys (NAS) to identify the current issues and concerns of the residents in order to be appropriately resolved in collaboration with the Local Government of Davao Oriental together with line agencies.
On the other hand, PDTs in Barangay Binondo of Baganga have just finished and turned over the Barangay Health Sub-station that they started in 2013. The presence of military forces in these depressed areas is continuing because they are mandated to protect and secure the people from all kinds of threat.
Moreover, 67IB soldiers are there to secure the upcoming government flagship projects that are usual targets of NPA attacks. These are the following: Integrated Products Agri-farming, Hydro-electric power source, Tourist sites development and Road concreting of Embarcadero-Binondo roadnet under the OPAPP-PAMANA Projects.
“The good relationship between the AFP forces and civilians is a living proof that the people in Davao Oriental are fed up already and do not support and believe the NPA and its Communist Ideology as a solution to basic problems in the communities. The populace really wanted development to flourish in their areas and revive once and for all the unity among them through the ‘Bayanihan’ Spirit.” LTC Michael Banua, Battalion Commander of 67th Infantry Battalion said.
“It saddens us that the NPA does not want development to enter in these areas which ironically is the main issue that they are exploiting unceasingly. Now that the government is seriously attending to these issues and concerns, they are obstructing its implementation. If their cause is really for the good of the people, why not lay down their arms and join us in achieving lasting peace and development of our country,” Banua posed the challenge.
Truth of the matter, the success of PDOP activities through the “Convergence Effort” of LGUs/LGAs and the AFP that effectively address the issues and concerns of the local populace by focusing also on “People-centered Approach” really hurt the CPP-NPA and its Legal Left Organizations (LLOs) in re-influencing their former mass bases as they have basically no more elbow room to pursue their ill motives of destroying the image of the government and conduct communist teach-ins by force and creating fears among the people if they would not cooperate. Many of our countrymen testify that they are just afraid or scared by the NPAs but do not believe anymore their Communist indoctrination of fighting the Government, as a solution to achieving Peace and Development in the countryside.
“We in the AFP and the rest of our stakeholders will continue to be the catalysts for peace and development in Davao Oriental and those ongoing humanitarian and non-violent efforts are consistent and in adherence to the provisions of SOMO,” Banua said.