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Determined to End Insurgency, Bicol Region Holds its First Successful Convergence



CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur-The very first convergence of Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in Labo, Camarines Norte today, August 29 was 'very successful.'


This is how Mayor Joseph Ascutia and the rest of the attendees described the recently concluded Convergence for Sustainable Peace and Development with the theme "Salita at Gawa para sa Masa."


"Ang napakaganda pong nangyari ay very successful po ito purely because 'yon pong mga taga Labo at taga ibang bayan ng Camarines Norte, nakita po nila kung ano talaga ang mga problema. Nakita po nila na pwede palang mas paramihin ang mga tulong na maibibigay sa ating mga kababayan," Mayor Ascutia added.


[The good news is, this event was very successful purely because the eyes of the residents of Labo and other municipalities of Camarines Norte were opened to the real problem we're facing. They realized that we can multiply the services which can be offered to our constituents.]


Instead of a simple dialogue of different representatives from national government offices and local officials, the event became a multi-service caravan.


Over a thousand of individuals benefited from the various services offered by the different clusters of the task force such as medical check-up, tooth extraction, free medicines, goto, slippers, massage and haircut.


Moreover, out of more than five hundred job seekers, thirty one were hired on the spot in the job fair organized by the Technical Education Skills Development Agency (TESDA), Provincial Employment Services Office (PESO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) while a hundred of applicants could possibly receive free trainings and scholarships.


Other offices on the other hand just like Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Justice grabbed the opportunity to deal with their clients' important queries.


The 9th Infantry Division (9ID) set-up a recruitment booth for the aspiring soldiers.


Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Bicol handed over to Gov. Edgardo Tallado the fund amounting to P5-M intended for the construction of half-way house inside Camp Busig-on, Baranggay Tulay na Lupa, Labo Camarines Norte.


Half-way houses are temporary shelters for rebel returnees while their benefits from Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) is being processed.


Aside from this, more than P3-M were also given by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to three Barangays as Kabuhayan Kit.


LTGEN GILBERT I GAPAY AFP, Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) congratulated the provincial government of Camarines Norte for creating the very first task force in the provincial level underscoring its historic significance in the peace and development efforts of the government.


COL ROMMEL K TELLO, Brigade Commander of 902nd Brigade supported Lt. Gen. Gapay’s statement and added that they are very happy because his men and the Barangay officials’ efforts to attain peace will now be a lasting one and will also pave the way for the development of communities.


Talking to more than a hundred Barangay Captains from the different towns of the province, Gov. Tallado asked for full support which will enable the government to deliver efficient services to its constituents.


"Tulungan po natin ang lahat ng mga ahensya para sa mabilis na pag-unlad po natin, ng ating mahal na lalawigan. Kasi hindi po ako titigil at gagawin ko po ang lahat para mapaunlad ang ating mahal na lalawigan," Tallado said in his speech.


[Let us help all the agencies of the government to speed-up our progress and of our beloved province. Because I will not stop and I will do everything to make our beloved province even more progressive.]


Lacking government facilities, road constructions and repairs were few of the concerns raised by the Barangay officials in the conducted executive meeting which was one of the highlights of the activity.


According to the DILG, the meeting will be very helpful in identifying the services and projects which the government should prioritize.


During the executive meeting, it was learned that the number of Barangays declaring the communist terrorists as persona non-grata is consistently increasing.


Right after the event, the municipalities and Barangays are expected to create their own local task forces which will intensify the implementation of President Duterte's Executive Order No. 70.


EO 70 is a Whole of Nation Approach or the unification of all government agencies to efficiently provide the needs of the people and resolve the long-running armed conflict in the country.


The government believes that insurgency is not just a military problem and requires not a military solution alone but the effort of each government offices which will push the armed movement to its natural death.


For five decades, communist terrorist group (CTG) lure the people to join their useless cause by using the issues which the government fails to solve immediately and brainwashed their members that the solution to these problems is armed struggle.


Hence, Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) under MGEN FERNANDO T TRINIDAD AFP reiterated that the Army in Bicol will not put their guards down and will continue to intensify their operations to preempt any atrocities which the communist terrorists plan to do.


Aside from the Sangguniang Bayan members of Labo, provincial Board Members, Barangay officials, and Youth Groups, present in the event was the nine clusters of the Task Force composed of different government offices.