Pampanga free of insurgents, says military
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military has cleared the province of Pampanga from the presence of communist insurgents.
A Memorandum of Agreement for declaration of Pampanga province “as peaceful and ready for further development” will be signed on Wednesday at King’s Royal Hotel Bacolor in Pampanga.
The event will be attended by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Pio Gregorio Catapang, Army’s 7th Infantry Division chief Major General Hernando Iriberri, said Brigadier General Henry Sabarre, commander of of the Army’s 703rd Brigade based in Arayat, Pampanga.
“This means there is no longer a hindrance for the local government to pursue progress and development in the area….But the AFP is still there to assist the provincial government in tandem with the local police,” he said.
Sabarre said there were no more members of the New People’s Army in the province since 2009, and the declaration is a manifestation that progress is continuous in Pampanga.
The military will maintain its presence there, however. The battalion operating in Pampanga also covers the nearby province of Bulacan.
“Our agreement is that the battalion will focus in Bulacan and I will be in charge of Pampanga because there is no longer insurgency here,” Sabarre said.
Data from the AFP showed that as of August 2013, 11 provinces were declared insurgency-free under the jurisdiction of the Northern Luzon Command: Apayao, La Union, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Kalinga, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecia, Aurora, Batanes and Benguet.
In total, 29 of 81 provinces in the country have undergone “normalization” wherein local government units have taken the lead in local peace and security.”
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