FREE AT LAST: DAVAO DE ORO NOW AN INSURGENCY-FREE PROVINCE

NABUNTURAN, DAVAO DE ORO — Peace is a quest of no end. Peace is Fragile. The challenge is sustainability. These were the words of Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy in the provincial government-led insurgency-free declaration ceremony, Wednesday, June 23, 2022, at the Provincial Capitol Complex Grounds.

From insurgency hotbed to insurgency-free, Gov. Tyron Uy’s peacebuilding stint lasted for 6 years, starting with 12 identified guerilla units as he took position in 2016, down to only one weakened front come the latter half of 2021. It was Tuesday when the Provincial Peace and Order Council officially passed a resolution declaring Davao de Oro an insurgency-free province. With the governor’s exemplary dedication to the eradication of local communist insurgency in close partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, provincial government peacebuilding initiatives infused with President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Whole-of-Nation” approach proved to be effective, spurring convergence and development in the province. Once “red-areas” are now well-known tourist spots, raising Davao de Oro as the 4th Most Visited Province by domestic tourists in the country, while its national competitiveness ranking also gained exponential growth coming from 63rd place in 2017, to 11th in 2021 as listed by the DTI.

Gov. Tyron Uy believed that peace could be achieved through ways of peace and pushed for the operation of Oplan Pagbabago, Barangay Development Program, and various other initiatives to encourage rebels to surrender back into the folds of law by providing livelihood trainings, cash assistance, and community development projects in conflict-affected and geographically isolated areas in the province. The means used was a direct intervention to uproot the core of insurgency—poverty and the lack of basic government services and protection for the people.

Out of 55 known insurgent groups in the country, 30% are in Mindanao, wherein 15% are in Davao Region, while 8%, or more than half of the total groups in Region XI, are in the province of Davao de Oro alone—ex-AFP Chief and incoming Chief of Defense, Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. reported during the event. AFP relished the bittersweet step into freedom, reminiscing the lives that were sacrificed in the process.

Nevertheless, it is a feat for the province’s insurgency problem to be solved in the span of 6 years—or 2 terms—under the dynamic administration of Gov. Tyron Uy.

“I will not allow this event to end without greeting Gov. Tyron Uy, a good friend of mine. Madami akong natutunan sa’yo. He is a very dynamic leader, and the reason kung bakit andito tayo nagse-celebrate ngayon,” (I will not allow this event to end without greeting Gov. Tyron Uy, a good friend of mine. I learned a lot from you. He is a very dynamic leader, and the reason why we are celebrating here today) Gen. Faustino quipped during his congratulatory message.

Gen. Jose Faustino Jr.
Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. also praised Gov. Tyron Uy for the hard-earned achievement. During the event the Director General jested, “Isa ang CTSCM sa naging recruitment center ng NPA sa probinsya, pero bago pina-take down yung school, ginawan muna ng bago. May kapalit kaagad.Palakpakan natin ulit si Gov. Tyron Uy. Pwede ba ako mag pa-consult sa’yo?” (CTCSM became one of the breeding grounds of NPA in the province, but before that school was taken down, a new one was built first. A replacement was created in advance. Let’s give a round of applause to Gov. Tyron Uy. Will you allow me to consult with you?)

Gov. Tyron Uy was also given recognition from DILG-Davao de Oro for his extraordinary leadership and contribution towards the peacebuilding movement as the local chief executive of the province.

During his closing remarks, Gov. Tyron Uy expressed his gratefulness and relief especially to the PLGU’s partners who earnestly supported the government’s programs, thankful for the greatest final achievement he could receive before stepping down as provincial governor. He also expressed his support towards the next administration, pledging that his commitment to sustaining peace and development will last beyond position and office.

Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy
Insurgency-free Declaration Ceremony

Among those present in the ceremony were DILG Provincial Director Noel Duarte, Davao de Oro Vice-governor Maria  Carmen Zamora, LTGEN Greg T. Almerol Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, 10th ID Commander MGEN Nolasco Mempin, PMGEN Filmore B. Escobal Commander of the Area Police Command Eastern Mindanao, Acting Provincial Fire Director of Davao de Oro Chief Inspector Donald R. Concepcion, Pantukan Mayor Roberto Yugo, Council of Women, Youth For Peace Movement, Department of Education-Division of Davao de Oro, and ELCAC-beneficiary Barangay Captains.

Peace was rightly earned in Davao de Oro through unwavering bayanihan, community development, carefully crafted programs, and the sincerest of desires to attain a future free from the dangers of insurgency. It now stands proven that peace can also be earned through ways of peace. May the armed struggle be no more, and peace be sustained in Davao de Oro in the years to come. Mabuhay, Davao de Oro!

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