The agrarian reform-related problems in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, and its neighboring areas, have been traced by the Philippine Army as among the issues being exploited by the New People’s Army to consolidate their mass-based organizations and recruitment of new members.
After more than six months of deployment in Escalante, Major Antonio Tumnog, 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalion commander, said yesterday that they were able to establish the security and socio-economic issues in identified communities affected by the armed conflict, in tandem with the 62nd Infantry Battalion.
Tumnog said they have observed that the agrarian-reform related concerns, which was not been given much attention by DAR, local government units, non-government and people’s organizations, led to the so-called social disorder, and the occupation of contested areas by farmers.
The 3rd CMOB, that has deployed Bayanihan Teams in conflict-affected communities, has been tasked by the Philippine Army to identify socio-economic issues in those areas, and bring them to the attention of local government units and concerned government agencies.
Tumnog said they have already presented the identified problems to DAR, that had acted on their recommendations, by fielding more personnel to attend to agrarian reform related concerns.
The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade held Saturday the assessment of the Bayanihan Team Activities being conducted in 35 communities affected by the armed conflict in Escalante City, Toboso, Calatrava, Cauayan and Candoni in Negros Occidental.
Members of the 26 Bayanihan teams of the 47th Infantry Battalion, 62nd Infantry Battalion and 3rd Civil-Military Operations Battalion had participated in the day-long assessment activity, also attended by Col. Melquiades Feliciano, Operation Officer of the Philippine Army.
Major General Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander expressed confidence that these efforts will greatly contribute to the AFP’s “winning the peace” campaign in this part of the country. *GPB