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Cotabato beefs up services in NPA-influenced communities

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Medical check-up was among the services delivered during the Cotabato provincial government’s Serbisyong Totoo Caravan, a project that is part of efforts to curb the communist insurgency. -- BW/LEAN S. DAVAL, JR.

COTABATO’S PROVINCIAL government is strengthening public service delivery in eight priority communities identified as remaining strongholds of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed unit of the communist movement. “We are targeting eight barangays and these eight barangays are confirmed having the presence of NPA. But if you can see here, may (there are already) interventions such as all weather roads, facilities, water system, and schools,” Acting Governor Emmylou T. Mendoza said during the Serbisyong Totoo Caravan in Barangay Kabalantian in Arakan town, one of the eight priority areas. The caravan is part of the province’s program for implementing President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 70, which calls for a nationwide multi-agency approach to addressing the longstanding communist insurgency. Apart from Arakan, the other municipalities identified to have NPA presence are Tulunan, Makilala, and Magpet. Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator Cynthia D. Ortega, also the focal person for the caravan, said the program brings directly to the communities services from such agencies as the Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Department of Labor and Employment. “Prior to this activity there was an immersion conducted in the communities in order for us to identify the priority needs of the barangays involving the different sectors of the communities,” Ms. Ortega said. She added that other pressing issues that will also be addressed include land tenure conflicts. Ms. Mendoza said implementing EO 70 means making the communities see that peace and security can be achieved through the involvement of all sectors and not just the police and the military. — Maya M. Padillo

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