For Lola Petring of Asinga Via, Baggao, who is now in her mid-70’s, living in fear is a thing of the past.
Gone were the days where she cannot sleep soundly after looking at her innocent children who are unmindful of the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.
In a place endowed with scenic beauty such as the remote Barangay Asinga Via, a life of poverty is manageable but not with problems on peace and order. Any time of the day, clashes between government troops and the NPA might happen any time.
Nonetheless, Baggao Mayor Joan Dunuan said that with Executive Order (EO) No. 70, which led to the creation of a task force for the campaign to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), government agencies who are members of the Regional Task Force (RTF-ELCAC) have joined forces to help clear areas in the town where insurgency remains a problem.
The RTF-ELCAC also aims for insurgency-cleared areas to be recipients of various infrastructure and development projects from the government.
Today, Mayor Dunuan’s administration will focus in achieving her goal in shaping Baggao with the motto, “From Terrorism to Tourism”, by slowly removing in the minds of the public that Baggao is a haven for NPA rebels.
Dunuan said that in the future, Baggao will be known for its tourism destinations where places like the Blue Waterfalls and Cave, Duba Cave, Nagkabittan Water Falls, hot springs among others will attract tourists and eclipse the past notion of the town being a hotspot of insurgency.
During the Serbisyo Caravan in Asinga Via last Nov. 3, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba, chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council, together with Mayor Dunuan, led the residents in declaring the NPA as persona non grata.
Various government agencies, organizations, and local leaders affirmed their strong support in attaining the goals of EO No. 70.
Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba urged the people to become wise in choosing leaders who will not tolerate the presence of NPA in the area.
Known to be the author of the No Barangay Left Behind project, Mamba said that the fund given to all barangays should be spent wisely up to the last centavo so that people will feel the presence of the government and there will be no reason for them to rebel against the authorities.
For Barangay Captain Ricky Ulep of Asinga Via, it is his dream that the local insurgency will become history and his people will start to reap the benefits from the efforts of the government by living peacefully in a progressive community.
“We need development so that tourism will boom,’ he said, as Asinga Via hosts one of the most sought destinations in Baggao — the local hot springs.
Asinga Via, with a population of 2,782, is a beautiful place endowed with perfect sceneries of nature, but insurgency has hindered other people in exploring the place.
But now, Ulep said that it will be a dream come true seeing the present and the next generation living in a place free from insurgency.
Lolo Caloy, one of the oldest participants in the Serbisyo Caravan, said, “Nasiyaat la unay tapnu awan kabkabutengmin ken makawaya kami iti uray sadinu nga kayatmi nga papanan nga awan pagbutbutengan” (It is good because we have nothing to fear and we can go to places we want without fear). (JKC/GVB/PIA Cagayan)