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Road Constructions, Improvements Augment in Defeating CPP-NPA in Zamboanga del Sur

The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) said constructions and improvements of numerous farm-to-market roads augmented the military’s combat and non-combat operations to defeat the Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) Western Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) and HQ Kalaw in the Province of Zamboanga del Sur.

In his presentation during the meeting of Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Peace and Order Council on February 2, 2020, in Pagadian City, 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said the 53IB has been successful in facing the challenge of communist insurgency in the province.

“As of the 4th Quarter 2019, the MRGU and HQ KALAW consisted of 66 manpower and 57 firearms. After 12 months in 4th Quarter 2020, MRGU and HQ Kalaw were reduced to only 13 manpower and 15 firearms and contained in only 1 municipality,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

During the presentation, acknowledged the contributions of different Army units and stakeholders including the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, 102nd Infantry “Igsoon” Division, 551st Engineer “Kasarigan” Battalion, 547th Engineer “Agila” Battalion, 44th Infantry “Agile N’ Stable” Battalion, 10th Infantry “Steady On” Battalion, 97th Infantry “Kalasaglahi” Battalion, 1st Civil-Military “Mahigalaon” Battalion, Zamboanga del Sur Police Provincial Office, and the Provincial Government, City, and Municipalities of Zamboanga del Sur.

Lt. Col. Herrera cited the following ELCAC projects updates:

  • Datu Lumok Bridge, Road Opening and Clearing in Barangay Poblacion, Lapuyan (70% completion)
  • Road Opening and Clearing from Barangay Dagum to Barangay Matalang, Lakewood (80% completion)
  • Road Opening and Clearing from Barangay Dagum to Barangay Tiwales, Lakewood (100% completion)
  • Road Opening and Clearing from P-7 Barangay Baking to Barangay Pinoles, Lakewood, ZDS (80% completion)
  • Road Opening and Clearing Purok 7, Barangay Bulolawan, Lakewood, ZDS (80% completion)
  • Road Clearing (Unpaved to Paved) Barangay Road from P-4 Barangay Biswangan to Brgy Gasa, Lakewood, ZDS (82% completion)
  • Road Upgrading (Unpaved to Paved) P-3, Barangay Mahayahay, Kumalarang (82% completion)
  • Road Upgrading (Unpaved to Paved) P-River side, Barangay Pangi, Kumalarang (47% completion)
  • Road Widening including drainage from Barangay Nilo to Barangay Maragang, Tigbao (78% completion)
  • Road Clearing (Unpaved to Paved) 1.5 Kilometers from crossing So Gati-an Barangay Timolan to Purok Sayote Brgy. New Tuburan, Tigbao ZDS (38% completion)

The 547th Engineer “Agila” Battalion also reported the following updates:

  • 2-Km Road Rehabilitation in Barangay Ocapan, San Miguel (completed on September 9, 2020)
  • Construction of Covered Court in Barangay Ocapan, San Miguel (completed on December 27, 2020)
  • Construction of Covered Court in Barangay Concepcion, San Miguel (completed on January 25, 2021)
  • 3.75-Km Road Opening in Barangay Sigacad, Bayog (93% completion)
  • 5-Km Road Opening in Barangay Piwan, Midsalip (88% completion)
  • 11-Km Road Opening (Suminalum-Kitaan-Dagat-Limamawan-Bogayo National Road Junction) in Kumalarang (62% completion)
  • 2.5-Km Road Opening in Barangay Tubo Pait, Dumalinao (88% completion)
  • 10.2-Km Road Opening (Magting-Sikatuna-Dacsul-Datagan) in Guipos (85% completion)
  • 6.9-Kms Road Rehabilitation in Barangay Datu Tutukan to Barangay Laban, Dumingag (10% completion)
  • 21-Km Road Rehabilitation in Barangay Saad, Dumingag (2% completion)
  • 21-Km Road Rehabilitation in Barangay Saad, Dumingag (2% completion)

Lt. Col. Herrera said the improvement of road infrastructures in different municipalities has significantly contributed to the dismantling of NPA groups. Previously, road travel from Barangay Dagum to Barangay Matalang in Lakewood town took about 1 hour in 28 kilometers.

“The initiative of opening and clearing 4.5 kilometers farm-to-market road in Dagum and Matalang, Lakewood and roads in other municipalities provided easier access to hinterland barangays, which were mostly NPA-infested areas,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

“This translated to the improved delivery of basic and government services including health services, education, and creation of job opportunities. The newly constructed farm-to-market roads also constricted the maneuver space of the NPA that further led to more intensive military operations,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

Present during the PPOC meeting were Maj. Gen. Gene Ponio, 1st Infantry “TABAK” Division Commander, BGen. Leonel Nicolas, 102nd “IGSOON” Brigade Commander, Provincial Governor VIctor Yu, DILG Provincial Director Moh. Taha Arakama, ZDS PPO Director PCol. Redentor Retusto, Provincial Council Members, and Mayors of Zamboanga del Sur.

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