Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Look at the Issue of Insurgency

This is a start of discussing the issue of insurgency in our province. It is good to begin the discussion by getting a perspective of a former commanding officer of Phil Army battalion stationed in Occ. Mindoro. This article is available in

The Road to Peace and Development in Occidental Mindoro
(Lt. Col. Elmer Quiros, CO, 80 IB)

"Occidental Mindoro has never been known to many as the land of the promise. But to MindoreƱos, the province is very rich in natural resources and agriculture is the major source of income to the majority. In fact, the province remains to be the food basket of southern Tagalog and is second in rice production in the
country years back. With more projects at hand, Occidental Mindoro will soon take off and boost its productivity to its highest level.

"The province has been synonymous to insurgency. Accordingly, the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC), known to be the most active front of the communist terrorists (CTs) nationwide has surreptitiously established its headquarters in the northernmost part of the province. Based on some revelations by rebel returnees, the STRPC set its foothold in the late 90s and has orchestrated its operations
in its sphere of influence not until its discovery and dismantling in the year 2004. Since then, they were able to capitalize on the broad mass base that eventually slowed down progress in the region. Coupled with bitter rivalries in politics which has claimed so many innocent lives, the province has struggled to achieve its goals.

"The rest is history. Today, the province is in the bloom. According to Governor Josephine Ramirez Sato, the province has achieved so much in terms of agricultural production which is her administrations centerpiece. She has provided farmers with farm products to include financial assistance to improve production. Furthermore, she has set on the drawing board attainable goals that will benefit all sectors of society particularly in her drive versus insurgency. Lately, the provincial government dispersed high breed cows with the hope of bringing back the glory to the province as the premier cattle raisers in the country.

"Politics is another problem the province has to deal with caution. Governor Sato remains to be very approachable to anybody. Everyone benefits in all her programs to include times of emergency. Still, the pressure of politic is felt by everyone. If only this situation never existed as every MindoreƱo had wanted, the province could have been more progressive and more peaceful. Hopefully, this dream will come to a reality.

"Still, insurgency cannot be defeated overnight. In fact, it continues to destroy society at its grasssoots and remains to be the major threat to peace and development especially in the countrysides. Based on latest intelligence assessments, the CTs have established their foothold in some barangays and continue to
influence rural activities in their favor. Not for long, they will try to enhance their sphere of influence in neighboring communities until they will finally encircle the urban centers. This maybe is the desire of the CTs but notwithstanding, the present administration will not allow such situation to prevail.

"Networking and pooling of resources by all stakeholders has been the ultimate formula to eradicate not only CT presence but moreso, its roots. Poverty, injustice, illiteracy and adventurism are at the forefront of communism and if not addressed in its infant stage, you will have a situation similar to what the country has at present. Luckily, the present administration of the different municipalities is very keen in addressing
the malady. Everybody, directly or indirectly, strives and works the extra mile in achieving development. But development has to pay the price before achieving peace."


Now, what does the article say?

First, the province is very promising -- primarily with its natural resources. As an agricultural area, the province is a major rice producer (in the region of Southern Tagalog and in the Philippines). These should have placed the province at the forefront of economic progress.

Second, what hampers the advent of economic development in the province is insurgency. Since 1990's the NPA's were able to put up a command in the northern part of the island of Occidental Mindoro -- until 2004 when it was overran by the military. Col. Quiros must have been reporting about the camp that allegedly the military took over after a massive military operations was launch in the first quarter of 2004 after the NPA's did a big damage to the Calaca power plant in Batangas. The NPA's, as they made their retreat, crossed the sea between Batangas and Paluan, Occidental Mindoro.

Likewise, the good colonel made mention of the NPA strongholds in barangays, and the sympathy that these communists are still enjoying from the rural people.

Actually, and this Col. Quiros never mentioned in his article, Mindoro is said to be the area for rest and recreation of the NPA's. For one, they cannot put up a steady camp in the island. Thus, NPA's from Luzon or from the Visayas are coming and going -- while a little less than a hundred are mainstays in the province. And for them, a batallion is stationed in Occidental Mindoro. The military does have an edge in almost all aspects of these possible engagement with the NPA's -- especially in number.

Thirdly, the military colonel is optimistic of what the provincial and municipal leaderships are doing. This, he asserts, can be a facilitating factor to defeat the cause of insurgency.

Fourthly, he says too that development is hampered because of the presence of the insurgents. Curiously, one may ask the question: which is the cause of which? Is it because of insurgency that development is obstructed? Is development is not coming in so there is insurgency?

Lastly, the causes of insurgency -- or that which fuels insurgency -- are the following: poverty, injustice, illiteracy and adventurism... Precisely, it was my main query in the fourth point.

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