RTF – ELCAC IX Launches the ZAPD Convergence Program

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CAMP SANG-AN, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur – The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) for Region IX (ZAMPEN Region) launched its flagship program dubbed ZAMPEN (Zamboanga Peninsula) Area for Peace and Development or ZAPD in Brgy San Jose, Lapuyan last Tuesday, November 26, 2019.

ZAPD aims to synergize the efforts of all government agencies in the region and other partner NGOs for the clearing of CPP-NPA influenced areas and making cleared communities resilient from the resurgence of CPP-NPA influence.

In compliance to the EO 70, which is better known as the Whole Of Nation approach to end local communist insurgency, the concept of ZAPD is to bring development and security to vulnerable communities so that social issues which are encouraging our citizens to support and join the local insurgency will be addressed for good.

The activity was graced by USec Rene Glenn Paje, Undersecretary for Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, DSWD as guest of honor.

USec Paje was accompanied by Gov Victor J Yu of Zamboanga del Sur who is also very actively implementing his province’s version of the TF-ELCAC.

Lapuyan Mayor Joel Sulong, as host of the area, was also present to receive the guests and participants of the event, and to express his unconditional support to the program.

Also in attendance were Colonel Leonel Nicolas, the commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Marlowe Patria, commanding officer of the 53rd Infantry Battallion, heads and representatives of regional offices.

After his message Governor Yu rang the traditional gong three times to symbolize the start of the ZAPD program, after which the RTF-ELCAC IX logo, which was mainly designed by the 1st Infantry Division, was officially unveiled by the distinguishes guests.

The program ended with signing of pledge of commitment to the program by the guests, IP leaders, and the locals.

During his speech Hon. Victor Yu, Governor of Zamboanga del Sur, assured the locals of Lapuyan that his administration is seriously implementing programs to bring about progress in conflict affected communities which includes Lapuyan. He also vowed to pave the road in the area to give the people of San Jose and its adjacent barangays better opportunities to prosper.

“I am happy to announce that with the RTF-ELCAC IX, more NPAs surrendered to our government forces. We also urged the local officials and leaders to discourage the constituents in supporting or joining the NPAs”, Yu said.

Meanwhile, Usec. Rene Glen Paje of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) who represented Sec. Rolando Bautista, during his speech said that, “The Task Force will deliver the basic services and encourage good governance. This will also answer the problem of peace and security in our communities”.

“I enjoin everyone to support the Regional Task Force ELCAC, the local government agencies and units in order to attain a just and lasting peace and sustainable development for our communities and for our future generations”, Paje added.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan Jr., the 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) Acting commander, lauded the Local government units, government agencies, 53rd Infantry Battalion and 102nd Infantry Brigade for the momentous activity.

General Gaerlan quoted that “Inter-agency convergence will bring inclusive and sustainable development in the conflict affected communities in our area of operations. Convergence will speed up our clearing of the conflict affected areas and its development. We also encourage the NPAs to surrender and lay down their firearms and benefit from the programs of the RTF – ELCAC IX for the benefit of their families and their communities”.

In conjunction with the launching ceremony was an RTF-ELCAC IX Serbisyo Caravan which catered to more than 1000 locals who availed of the services which the various government agencies delivered to the area. The 1st Infantry Division also actively participated in the activity thru the 53rd IB and the 1CMOBn whose responsible for the facilitation of medical assistance and distribution of 300 pairs of slippers during the event.

After the launching ceremony, the RTF-ELCAC IX secretariat, together with Governor Yu proceeded to the ground-breaking ceremony of the Zamboanga del Sur half-way house for former rebels which was facilitated by the 53rd IB in Poblacion, Guipos. Former rebels who are currently beneficiaries of the government’s Rebel Reintegration Program were also presented during the event.

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