THE Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) has committed to fully support the planned nationwide implementation of the successful Revitalized-Pulis sa Barangay (R-PSB) concept in Southern Mindanao which has been credited to be a major factor in the collapse and defeat of the New People’s Army (NPA) insurgency in the region, the Journal Group learned.
PNP-SAF director, Brigadier General Edgar Alan O. Okubo said he has committed to deploy two companies from every SAF battalion to fully implement the R-PSB program in their areas of assignment.
The member of PNP Academy Class 1992 reported to PNP chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. that he will create and train one SAF Intelligence Battalion that will cater to the intelligence requirement of their regular battalions to further enhance their missions and operational accomplishments.
At present, the PNP-SAF has 14 regular battalions complemented by a Rapid Deployment Battalion and a Fore Support Battalion.
Last August 11, National Security Adviser Clarita R. Carlos and Department of National Defense officer-in-charge, Senior Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. were given a briefing by Okubo relative to the R-PSB concept at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.
The NSA requested the briefing as she wanted to know how the R-PSB program helped in the collapse and defeat of insurgency in Davao region. After the briefing, Carlos said she wanted the R-PSB program to be replicated in the whole archipelago.
She also called on the PNP leadership headed by Azurin to be prepared to present their R-PSB program to President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr.
Carlos lauded the concept of the R-PSB to provide government service to people leaving in so-called Geographically Isolated and Disadvantageous Areas or GIDAS knowing well that their conditions are being taken advantage of by the NPA to recruit more members and supporters.
The NSA expressed belief that in order to defeat insurgency, ‘those in the margin should be moved in the center’ in reference to effort by the government to reach the marginalized sectors.
Carlos noted that the R-PSB program of the Police Regional Office 11 has proven to be a success in convincing thousands of NPA members, supporters and sympathizers to denounce the rebel movement and thus, must be replicated by the PNP nationwide.
“I would like the R-PSB mission to infect, be replicated in the entire archipelago, exactly what Sec. Boy Faustino wants for the AFP to really do their mandate which is territorial defense and external defense because this is your mandate at the PNP,” she said.
Carlos underscored the need to bring those in the margins to the center so that they will become active participants in the building of a better Philippines. Officials said she was referring to the marginalized sectors of the society including those living in so-called GIDAS n the country.
Officials said Carlos visited Eastern Mindanao to learn about the progress of the implementation of the government’s effort to end local communist armed conflict and see the best practices of the PNP when it comes to addressing the communist insurgency.
Azurin said they are aspiring for lasting peace under their “Kapayapaan Program.”
The PNP chief said that in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and various clusters of Executive Order No. 70 NTF ELCAC – or the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict, the PNP shall continue this endeavor with more vigor and enthusiasm and shall ensure that all Barangay Development Programs shall reach its completion, by providing security to its implementers.
Since 2019, around 17,000 indigenous people and other poor folk living in so-called GIDAS in Southern Mindanao are now qualified to avail of different government services, thanks to the birth certificates they have finally acquired thru the help of the R-PSB program of the PRO11.
“Since 2019 to date, our personnel from the PRO11 Revitalized-Pulis sa Barangay have helped thousands of IPs in the region who have no legal identity for so long get their birth registration papers,” said Okubo, a former PRO11 Deputy Regional Director for Administration.
The official previously supervised the activities of the PRO11 R-PSB which was activated to provide basic government service to poor tribesmen in the region and keep them away from the recruitment activities of the NPA.
The PRO11 R-PSB since 2019 has enjoyed the full support of local residents as its personnel have helped construct roads, school buildings, artesian projects and water system for local tribesmen and other poor folk in the region.
The R-PSB personnel also facilitated the mass wedding of dozens of local tribesmen who were previously vulnerable to NPA recruitment, their areas formerly known as ‘insurgent mass base’ since the local folk have difficulty in obtaining basic documents such as birth and marriage certificates.
Without these documents, the tribesmen cannot acquire a driver’s license or enrol their children to government schools due to lack of records that will establish their identities.
“This problem had been taken advantage of by the CPP/NPA for so many years. Due to lack of education and the absence of government in GIDAS barangays, the poor villagers are really susceptible for NPA recruitment,” said Brig. Gen. Okubo.
“In short, the R-PSB personnel have become the true representative of the government in those GIDAS areas. They are there to assist the poor communities,” he said.
The Journal Group learned that for years, thousands of poor Southern Mindanao residents have been living without proof of their identities and nationality, a problem which has been taken advantage of by the NPA.
However, with the help of members of the R-PSB conceptualized by former PRO11 director, now Area Police Command-Visayas deputy director, Major Gen. Filmore B. Escobal, these poor folks have received their birth certificates since 2019, the processing of their documentation papers facilitated by the local police.
It turned out that the poor villagers residing in far-flung areas of Southern Mindanao have been living without any government identification papers they need to acquire their Certificate of Live Birth, prompting the PRO11 come up with the noble program to register them.
Since its activation, the R-PSB has not only facilitated the birth registration of the IPs but have also helped build roads, artesian wells and other potable water distribution system and schools where they teach young tribesmen basic primary education with the assistance of different government agencies and local government units.
Last July 18, the PRO11 R-PSB facilitated the transport and registration of 120 more IPs belonging to the Matigsalug tribe in Davao City to enable them to participate in the forthcoming Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections.
“We are doing this to help these IPs exercise their right to suffrage since they have no legal identity for so long and thus cannot vote or avail different government services,” Okubo said.
The R-PSB program has been lauded by the national government as it has been instrumental in providing civil registration for people living in remote areas in Mindanao specifically children who, on paper were never born prior to the help they got from the PRO11.
As a result, they now have access to healthcare, education, the government’s conditional cash transfer programs and other financial help.
The R-PSB program of Escobal was continued by Brig. Gen. Benjamin H. Silo Jr. when the latter was designated as Southern Mindanao police head last March 1.