By Jani Arnaiz
October 3, 2011
MAASIN CITY – For the second time, the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Visayas has declared Southern Leyte province as “insurgents free.”
In a ceremony held at the Ruperto K. Kangleon function house on Friday, Central Command (Centcom) head Lt. Gen. Ralph Villanueva and Major Gen. Mario Chan of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City in Samar and 802 Brigade’s Colonel John S Bonafos joined with top officials in the province in signing the “joint declaration of an insurgents free Southern Leyte.”
The declaration was attributed to the determination and commitment of the local chief executives in helping the soldiers solve insurgency.
“The military alone cannot sustain the clearing of an area without the sincere support of the local government as proven in the 8th Infantry Division’s area of responsibility, Gen. Chan said.
The military said the insurgency started in the early 70’s under the leadership of now Rep. Pastor Alcover and has steadily grew until 2001with the Southern Leyte Front headed by one alias Manuel Rolona.
The SLF however disbanded when the 43rd Infantry Battalion based its camp in Hibo-hibod village in Sogod town.
In 2006, Southern Leyte was first declared as insurgents free with then 43rd IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Raul Farnacio and during the time of Gov. Rosette Lerias.
Obviously not informed of the first declaration, Lt. Gen. Villanueva, said the second declaration, “was a continuing effort,” when Inquirer asked him how come there was another declaration of insurgency free.
“Because of the proximity of Southern Leyte to Leyte province which has prevailing insurgency problem, communist rebels maybe presents in some areas in the province,” Villanueva told Inquirer.
Southern Leyte is the fifth province under the Central Command and 8th Infantry Division to have been declared as insurgents free.
Declared earlier as insurgents free provinces were Cebu, Bohol, Guimaras and Biliran.