September 9, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 730 views

MORE than four years after its implementation, the Revitalized-Pulis sa Barangay (R-PSB) program of the Philippine National Police has been successful in preventing the resurgence of CPP/NPA insurgency in geographically isolated parts of the country, a top police official tasked to supervise the program told the Journal Group yesterday.

According to PNP Director for Police-Community Relations, Major General Edgar Alan O. Okubo, the R-PSB program has not only been successful in different Police Regional Offices.

It also helped the PNP Special Action Force in 2022 gain momentous results in dealing with conflict-affected areas in the country that have not been cleared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the member of PNP Academy ‘Tagapagpatupad’ Class of 1992 who previously commanded the elite PNP-SAF and later, the National Capital Region Police Office before being designated as head of the PNP-DPCR in Camp Crame.

Maj. Gen. Okubo said that the program had been successful in its mission to sustain the gains of the Community Support Program of the AFP as well as projects and services delivered by the government to the community particularly those living in so-called Geographically Isolated and Disadvantageous Areas of GIDAs barangays in the country.

During a recent talk before officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government led by Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos Jr. and delegates from LEMHANNAS Indonesia led by by Police Commissioner General Drs. Rudy Sufahriadi Sr., Maj. Gen. Okubo said that the R-PSB program has prevented the resurgence of communist insurgency in GIDAS areas as evidenced by that fact that the CPP/NPA failed to recover them anew despite several attempts.

“It has successfully insulated the unaffected community depriving the Communist Terrorist Group (CTGs) of their access to the masses to initiate their propaganda and recruitment,” said the official.

Maj. Gen. Okubo however explained that the PNP’s R-PSB program is not taking over the work of the different government agencies and local government units but instead is ‘filling the gap in connecting the needed services to the GIDAS communities.’

“It is not wrong to criticize the government with the objective to expose its weakness and we have seen communities deprived of services especially those located at the GIDAS. These situations gave opportunity to the CTGs to continuously plant seeds of discontentment to the people against the government which will then be interpreted as oppression and opportunities for revolution,” he said.

Moreover, the 2-star general stressed that their R-PSB program has been only effective in isolated parts of the country but has also been used to resolve the problem of some government agencies.

He cited the problem of the Department of Public Works and Highways-NCR to continue their Mindanao Avenue Extension Project which has been delayed since 1980 due to the presence of thousands of informal settlers occupying a small portion of the project.

R-PSB personnel were seen as key elements in the successful relocation of more or less 130 families in the area which allowed the DPWH to resume their project.

Maj. Gen. Okubo said that the R-PSB program is also in line with the 5-Focused Agenda of PNP chief, General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. and fully complements the national security plan of the Marcos administration.

President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr. had said that he aims to address security challenges through inclusive and participative solutions to end local communist armed conflict and other security threats.

The PNP-DPCR director said that the R-PSB program has gone very far when it comes to pushing for development in GIDAS areas formerly known to be influenced by the CPP/NPA.

He said that R-PSB personnel have already organized 1,021 People’s Organization composed of former NPA rebels and members of underground mass organizations who have surrendered to the government.

“Our R-PSB cadres convinced them to yield and become important elements of peace and order. They were capacitated and later became partners in the development effort of our government,” he explained.

Since its implementation, policemen involved in the R-PSB program have actively involved themselves in the construction of integrated schools for indigenous people in some parts of the Southern Philippines and helped build farm-to-market roads, improved access roads; and opened trail roads, water systems and tribal houses for the IPs.

The R-PSB cadres also helped construct communal comfort rooms, enabled thousands of Ips to get their birth registration papers to enable them to avail of government benefits, and conducted job fairs in urban areas.

Maj. Gen. Okubo said that these programs were essential and crucial to the development of depressed areas in the country.

“All in all, the R-PSB program implemented an estimated value of over P1.777 billion worth of projects and activities. These funds came from funds of different police regional offices, local government units, national government agencies, non-government organizations and stakeholders,” he said.

In his talk to the Indonesian delegation, Maj. Gen. Okubo emphasized the relation of the R-PSB program to the national strategy to defeat the CTGs and its support activities to the Community Support Program and Focused Military Operations of the AFP as well as the implementation of projects and services of LGUs, NGAs and other PNP stakeholders.

He said that the government has also recognized that problems on insurgency continue to rise despite decades of fighting it and addressing security threats posed by various groups of different motivations such as ideology and amid the anticipated government victory thru various military campaigns.

This is because insurgency is largely driven by structural problems in Philippine society, the PNP-DPCR director said.

He said that the CTG’s presence has caused killings, bombings and hostage-taking across the archipelago as the rebels press their effort to collect so-called ‘revolutionary tax’ from businessmen in areas they control.

“More than the threat it poses to our democracy and institutions, insurgency and armed conflict threatens the way of life, safety and security of Filipinos. Moreso, development cannot be reserved solely for peace and conflict-free environments but rather to focus on conflict and development in a holistic framework,” the official said.

Maj. Gen. Okubo said that the CTGs are struggling to gain recognition from the international community but are advancing a so-called ‘People’s Democratic Government’ espousing a communist system of governance purposely to overthrow the legitimate government.

“Sadly, in the GIDAS areas, the people have no choice because where the government is absent, CTGs assume governance unchallenged.

Thus, the conceptualization of the R-PSB project which is a complementary program of the PNP with the National Security Plan to effectively address national security challenges.

Maj. Gen. Okubo said that the R-PSB shall be implemented across the country to sustain the gains of the government both in ending local armed conflict posed by the CPP/NPA and in strengthening the PNP’s anti-criminality campaign.

He said that the program completely address the problem in far-flung areas where there are strong CPP/NPA influence coupled by weak barangay governance. The official said these problems are caused by active CTG-influenced People’s Organizations, active CTG armed groups, non-functioning barangay-based institutions and peacekeeping units and last but not the least, inadequate national government support.

The presence of R-PSB cadres in these areas however have and will address problems such as strong propaganda apparatus of the CTGs, the presence of active CTG political officers, the weak presence of government law enforcement and security forces; the uncontrolled flow of weapons and dual-used chemicals or materials; irregular barangay council meetings; the presence of non-functioning barangay committees; and the non-delivery of basic essential government services like access roads.

“With this, the R-PSB aims to attain the establishment of good governance and remove CTG influence in every GIDAs barangays which were previously under the control and influence of the CPP/NPA. With this, we will establish back control,” he said.

In 2019, the Police Regional Office 11 formerly headed by now Lieutenant General Filmore B. Escobal, with Okubo as deputy regional director for administration conceptualized the R-PSB program to end local communist armed conflict in Davao region.

The program was seen as a major factor in the declaration in October 2022 of Davao region as an ‘insurgency-free region.’

Maj. Gen. Okubo said that as of last August, the PNP has already deployed 4,914 R-PSB personnel in 866 priority barangays. Camp Crame is monitoring the progress of the R-PSB thru monthly ‘summing up activities’ to evaluate the progress and issues in barangays where the R-PSB cadres are immersed.