The province of Laguna is now free of communist insurgents, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the provincial capitol have declared.
Laguna became an area with what the AFP called a Stable Internal Peace and Security or SIPS after it recorded no violent activity attributed to the New People's Army over the past year.
The military said its records showed no atrocities committed by the NPA in Laguna over the past 12 months.
Laguna is the fourth province to be declared insurgency-free after Cavite in 2018; and Romblon and Marinduque in 2019.
Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez and Brigadier Arnulfo Burgos Jr. signed a memorandum of agreement as regards the SIPS for Laguna during a meeting of the province's peace and order council.
Colonel Alex Rillera, commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, the declaration "is a testament of Laguna’s peace-loving people’s desire to liberate themselves from the clutches of terrorism and instead harness their economic potentials by ensuring peace in their community.”
Hernandez expressed confidence that business in Laguna will boom after the announcement.
Meanwhile, 12 rebel returnees were awarded P584,000 under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
Burgos, in a statement, claimed that the awarding was tangible proof of the government's desire to end local communist armed conflict.
"The quest for an inclusive peace is now on the doorstep of each Filipino,” he added
Burgos then congratulated the residents of Laguna for the status and called on remaining NPA terrorists to surrender. —Joahna Lei Casilao/NB, GMA News