The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) conducted a Peace Building Forum to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) for Dumingag municipality officers including Mayor Joan Abejuela and barangay officials at 53IB Headquarters at Camp Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga Del Sur on September 2, 2020.
The said peace forum was the first step in Dumingag municipal government’s counterinsurgency action plan dubbed as OPLAN “AMUMA”, launched in August 2020, to address the insurgency and terrorism in its municipality.
Dumingag town has been long treated by New People’s Army (NPA) Communist-Terrorist Groups (CTGs) as their safe haven.
In the said forum, the Dumingag local government officials were also apprised of the situational updates in the municipality, including the status and construction of ELCAC projects.
Mayor Abejuela thanked the “Matapat” Troopers for the said activity and encouraged everyone to stand and work together in addressing insurgency in Dumingag.
“OPLAN ‘AMUMA’ plays a big role in our municipality as a stepping stone to develop the livelihood of every barangay in Dumingag. Let us stand and work together, and clear our municipality from HQ ‘KALAW’ and MRGU,” Abejuela said.
53rd IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera also expressed gratitude to the mayor of Dumingag and the barangay officials for “their never-ceasing support and assistance to 53IB.”
“We are very much happy to have you here in our Battalion for this Peace Building Forum, in which we will make our relationship stronger than ever,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.
The Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas said that this is a milestone – to have a plan specific for ELCAC that aims to address the issues exploited against by the CTGs.
“This plan will not fail, because we know where Dumingag will be in their plan with its ultimate goal to put an end to local communist armed conflict in their community,” said Brig. Gen. Nicolas.
Zamboanga del Sur Governor and Provincial ELCAC Chairperson Gov. Victor Yu, the activity’s Guest of Honor and Speaker, mentioned in his message that today’s Dumingag is far from what it was before.
“I observe that the situation in the Municipality of Dumingag before compared to the present, the insurgency became weaker because of the continuous programs and interventions of the government for the people,” Gov. Yu said.
The Dumingag local government officials were also updated on the ongoing construction of the Halfway House where the former NPA rebels will stay while their benefits under E-CLIP are processed.
The guests also participated in tree-planting and fun shoot activities at the 53IB Firing Range after the forum.