Army expands peace initiatives in Kidapawan

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 29 April) — The Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion wants to expand its Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) to five more barangays that it considers as “rebel hotspots” after claiming success in at least 10 barangays here.

The city, comprising 40 barangays, is adjacent to Magpet town where, two weeks ago, one of its villages was raided by an estimated 100 guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) clad in full-battle gear. The rebels carted  away at least 32 high-powered firearms and ammunitions from the barangay officials, village guards, and civilians.

The city is  considered by the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) as part of its Guerrilla Front 53 under the Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command.

1st Lt. Silver Belvis, spokesperson of  the 39th IB, had earlier told reporters they now consider the 10 barangays “NPA-free” six months after it launched its PDOP there.

Among these barangays are San Roque, San Isidro, and Santo Nino, which are near Barangay New Cebu in President Roxas, North Cotabato, also considered ‘highly influenced’ by the communist guerillas.

The Army’s PDOP aims to bring the military and the government closer to the people and protect them from the so-called, “infiltration” and “exploitation” of armed threat groups, particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)