caraga region

Agusan Sur declared under community quarantine

March 18, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO , Agusan del Sur—Even as Agusan del Sur still remains free from the dreaded Corona Virus  Infectious Disease 2019 (COVID-19), provincial officials are not taking any chances and declared the province under community quarantine effective midnight of March 17. Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. issued Executive Order No. 13-20 Series of 2020 placing the entire Agusan del Sur under community quarantine to avert the local transmission of the COVID-19. He said when the community quarantine takes effect, all passenger buses from Davao City, Butuan City, Bislig City and Tandag City are no longer allowed to pass by the province to pick up passengers. Only local public transportation vehicles are allowed to travel within the province’s boundaries. Exempted however from the transport ban are travels for purposes of medical interventions, transport of food, water and medicine supplies in and out of the province, transport of petroleum products and other basic commodities, travels of persons carrying exiting government contracts and projects, all travels of the Armed Forces and the police, all travels of health works doing official duties, disaster rescue workers  and official travels of the Task Force members. Since the global pandemic hit the country, the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force has documented seven cases of person under monitoring   (PUM) but all were tested negative after they separately underwent 14-day home quarantine except for another case which was declared as persons under investigation (PUI) after having a cough on the last day of quarantine. Most of the PUMs came home from abroad while the lone PUI is an overseas Filipino worker in Thailand who returned home for vacation in Sta. Josefa town. The Provincial COVID-19 Task Force has even prepared mitigation measures if in case the pandemic will worsen and would finally infiltrate the province by identifying drug rehabilitation center, halfway houses and unused old buildings of district hospitals as possible isolation and treatment centers. Alfredo Plaza, provincial public information officer, said the task force agreed to use the facilities of the China-funded 150-bed drug treatment and rehabilitation center in San Francisco town, residential treatment and rehabilitation facility inside the 401st Army Brigade camp and the unused old facilities in the three district hospitals of the provincial government.

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Mayor, DILG exec inaugurates Kalinaw building in Bayugan City

February 7, 2020

Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur (ADS) – Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary for Security Operations, Alexander L Macario, Bayugan City Mayor Kirk A. Asis led the inauguration and blessing of Kalinaw Building on February 6 at the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion headquarters in barangay Noli, Bayugan City. Kalinaw Buidling the first inter-agency facility to support the initiatives of the Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict as it will house the conduct of deradicalization and reintegration programs for Former Rebels (FRs) in CARAGA. “Tama na, sobra na. We need to end insurgency, especially here in Bayugan City. Before the deployment of the 3rd Special “Arrowhead” Battalion in our city, we ranked 113 among the competitive cities in the Philippines. After the conduct of Bayanihan Team Activity (BTA) and Community Support Program (CSP) from 2016-2018 by the Special Forces, our ranking significantly increased making us number 12 as of this date. We are grateful for our partnership with the 3rd SF Battalion to bring the basic and social services to the farthest barangays to address the root causes of insurgency that is why we supported and approved this project,” Mayor Kirk Asis, said. “This, I think, is the first of its kind, in the LGUs of the Philippines and I will bring this to the attention of the National Task Force ELCAC so that they can challenge the Local Chief Executives and Local Government Units (LGUs) nationwide to do the same, “Asec. Macario, said. “Kung gugustuhin ng LGU na tapusin ang insurgency, magagawa ito. Political will talaga and commitment ang kailangan para umunlad pa lalo ang bawat lugar sa Pilipinas. I commend the City of Bayugan City for this peace and development project borne out of the collective ideas of the members of Bayugan City Peace and Order Council, the Sangguniang Bayan Members and the Mayor,” Asec. Macario, added. Meanwhile, the Kalinaw Building is a fully furnished 3-storey facility that also aims to promote inter-agency collaborations to produce developmental and synergistic ideas that can greatly contribute in building lasting and genuine peace not only in Bayugan City but in the whole CARAGA Region.  This will also be an instrument of good governance as this will house the conduct of various stakeholders’ capability and capacity building through training and education such as the Retooled Community Support Program orientation to further implement EO 70 in the city. Also present to grace the activity are BGen Lincoln Francisco T Tagle AFP, Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), BGen Maurito L Licudine AFP, 402nd Infantry Brigade Commander, COL Allan D Hambala INF (MNSA) PA, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander, LTC Joey B Baybayan INF (GSC) PA, 3SFBn Commanding Officer, Bayugan City Officials and stakeholders and the officers, men and women of the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion.

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Former Rebels, CAFGUs finish TESDA training course

February 2, 2020

Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur – Five former rebels (FRs) and 15 members of Citizens’ Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion earned Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA) National Certificates (NC I, II) on Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) training through the Father Saturnino Urios College of Sibagat Incorporated’s (FSUCSI) Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program at FSUCSI grounds in Poblacion, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur yesterday, January 31.   This is the first time the CAFGUs and FRs experienced a graduation since most did not have the chance to go to school.  “Masarap pala ang pakiramdam ng pinaghirapan mo ang isang bagay at makaranas ng ganitong graduation,” alias Tobi, a former rebel, said. The graduates endured 36 months of skills training and assessments under the supervision of FSUCSI-TVET head Mary Grace M. Brongcano Ph.D, FSUCSI School Director, Rev. Fr. Carlito L. Clase, MAPTH and Jordano M. Jawel, SMAW trainer. The Bayugan City LGU, Provincial offices of TESDA and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Agusan Del Sur provided the food and allowances for the whole duration of the training. The graduates will also receive portable welding equipment to aid them in their livelihood. “We are grateful for committed heads of local and national government agencies who answered the call to end insurgency through increasing the economic activities in the conflict-affected areas and capacitating the affected communities to become resilient and productive,” LTC Baybayan, said. Colonel Allan D Hambala INF (MNSA) PA, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander, said that more skills training intended for the FRs and CAFGUs, who are our partners in intensifying our integrated territorial defense system, will be conducted through the teamwork of committed government agencies actively supporting the Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict by activating their respective Local Task Forces to End Insurgency and by promoting the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for rebel surrenderees.  “The End of insurgency lies in a government that puts premium to the welfare of its citizens. This is why we must have no letup in delivering the necessary government services for those in the conflict-affected areas. We believe that these efforts of the government will induce more rebels to surrender,” Colonel Hambala, ended.

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Forty IP women establish a group in Surigao del Sur against armed conflict

January 16, 2020

From conflict-affected to a resilient IP Community in Surigao Sur Lianga, Surigao del Sur – Forty members of the Conflict-affected Indigenous Peoples (IP) Community of Sitio Simuwao formed a women’s organization named, Km9 Simuwao Kabudangan Association (KSKA) on January 12 at Sitio Simuwao (Kilometer 9), in barangay Diatagon of Lianga to prepare the community for the implementation of government livelihood programs of the Surigao del Sur Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC). This is one of the IP community’s first steps to become resilient and empowered to any conflict.  The Community Support Program (CSP) teams composed of the 9th Special Forces Company, 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion, 41ST Civil-Military Operations Company, Lianga Police Community Relations, IP Tribal Council of Lianga and the Barangay Local Government Unit of barangay Diatagon facilitated the IP women’s drafting of their constitution and by-laws. Their next activities will include leadership and livelihood training.  It can be recalled that Kilometer 9 IPs were then exploited by the alleged Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs) linked anti-government and militant groups through the conduct of “Taktikang Bakwit” in the past years. However, through the Local Government Unit (LGU)-led effort to win the peace through the Task Force ELCAC and CSP, an environment of genuine peace and reconciliation between the government (to include the military) and the IP Community was fostered.  During the first peace dialogue between the military and IPs last August 22, 2019, some of the IPs were still skeptical, but with tangible results of sustainable development and people empowerment by the government such as the rehabilitation of farm to market roads, installation of electricity lines, and the delivery of various basic government services, the IPs found a real ally against the CNTs who exploited them.  One mother from KM9 said, “We now realized that the only way to attain the tribe’s preservation and development is to make ourselves resilient. We don’t need to rely always to the government. Instead, we have to strive ourselves to have a better life.” Bayan Muna and Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa mga Sumusunod (MAPASU) attempted to stop the government’s implementation of Executive Order No. 70 and demanded to pull-out the military from the community but Surigao Sur province and the IP community remained steadfast to their commitment to end insurgency and turned down their demand immediately. Meanwhile, the IP Council mulls the establishment of a detachment which will serve as an inter-agency facility to address criminality, insurgency and environment exploitation in Kilometer 9 to further boost their quest to have a resilient and peaceful community.  

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NPA surrenderees in Surigao Sur reveal arm cache hidden in Mt Gacob

January 14, 2020

SAN AGUSTIN, Surigao del Sur – The joint elements of the 9th Special Forces “Hounds” Company under the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion (3SFBn) and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) seized an NPA arms cache on January 10 at Mt. Gacob, Sitio Magkahunaw, Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Recovered were two caliber 30 Garand rifles, and assorted ammunitions and explosives. This is a result from the follow-up interviews of the two rebel surrenderees (@John and @Dave) who revealed the location of the arms cache. “The declaration of persona non-grata to the members of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) by Surigao del Sur province and the institutionalization of the Local Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (LTF-ELCAC) of the Province down to its municipalities play a role on the influx of rebel surrenderees in Surigao Sur, “Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF (GSC) PA, 3SFBn Commanding Officer, said. During the  Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Meeting last January 6 presided by Governor Alexander T. Pimentel, the council observed the significant decrease of NPA violent and non-violent activities in Surigao Sur. Further, participation among people in demonstrations organized by anti-government militant groups allegedly linked to CNTs significantly decreased. Colonel Allan D Hambala INF (MNSA) PA, 401st (Unite and Fight) Infantry Brigade Commander lauds the Provincial Government of Surigao Del Sur for its steadfast support to end insurgency through the plans and programs under Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. In the whole region of CARAGA, the province of Surigao del Sur was the first to declare CNTs unwelcome. Meanwhile, the Army and the Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict continuously call on the remaining CNTs to abandon armed struggle and avail of the Enhanced Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for rebel surrenderees.  

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2 young NPA rebels surrender with high-powered firearms

January 10, 2020

Marihatag , Surigao del Sur – A new life for the new year as two young NPAs on the army’s watch list surrendered yesterday, January 9, at the 7th Special Forces “Spartans” Company under 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion at barangay Mararag in Marihatag bringing along one 5.56 M16A1 rifle, one M653 rifles,  2 long magazines with 86 rounds of ammunitions. Both surrenderees are members of the Communist NPA Terrorists, (CNTs’) Weakened Guerilla Front 19 (WGF19), Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC). @John who was 17 years old then, and @Dave, who requested anonymity for security reasons, were buddies and both are residents of barangay Mahaba in Marihatag.  A certain @Julian recruited them in the vicinity of Baliad in Diatagon, Lianga, SDS. As curious young individuals, they explored and joined the terrorist group but, in the end, regretted their decision because miserable experiences. Starvation, exhaustion and the irrelevance of their existence as a terrorist group were factors for their surrender. They had a chance to break out of the group when they were tasked to plead for food in the far-flung communities outside their guerrilla base. Both became squad leaders and stayed in the group from April-October 2019 and this year, they formally surrendered. “Gutom, pagod at takot sa aming buhay lang ang inabot namin. Mali talaga ang desisyon namin sumali. Kaya nang inutusan kami kumuha ng pagkain, tumakas nakami at ayaw na naming bumalik,” @John said. It can be recalled that last December 2019, the Marihatag Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) hosted a peace dialogue in barangay Mahaba spearheaded by TESDA Surigao del Sur as the lead agency for Poverty Reduction, Employment and Livelihood Cluster wherein the Enhanced Local Comprehensive Integration Program (E-CLIP) for NPA surrenderees was discussed and disseminated in the community through leaflets distribution and the Community Support Program teams that were immersed in the barangay last year. Colonel Allan D Hambala INF (MNSA) PA, 401st”Unite and Fight” Infantry Brigade Commander urge members of the Task Forces to be more active in delivering the basic services in the conflict-affected areas because the government’s visibility will surely have a developmental impact to disprove the CNT’s promises and will weaken the CNTs’ will to fight which can induce more surrenders in the future. 

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