RESIDENTS of Sagada in Mountain Province has launched “Operation Baklas” aimed at ending the astrocities of New People’s Army (NPA) in their town, the Philippine Army said on Sunday.
Brigadier General Roger Salvador, commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade (501IB) of the Army’s Fifth Infantry Division (5ID), said the villagers conducted “Operation Baklas” in Aguid village and nearby areas on Friday.
“This was done because of the consensus reached by the townspeople during the peace conference [on]May 7,” Salvador said
During the conference, the villagers came up with “Operation Baklas” and agreed that it will be done regularly to prevent the [rebels]from entering their town.
Salvador said “Operation Baklas” is the result of recent attacks and human rights violations committed by NPA rebels in Sagada.
Earlier, Sagada was declared as “zone of peace” which has effectively barred armed soldiers and NPA rebels from entering the town.
Local government officials said it was declared as zone of peace “to project a peaceful Sagada and attract more tourists in the area.”
But officials said the NPA has “utterly disregarded” this zone of peace and built temporary camps around the place.
The military cited NPA’s attack on March 29 which resulted to the wounding of several Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel. In June of last year, the NPA ambushed police trainees in Tadian town, killing one and wounding dozens.
“The people are showing anger against the [rebel group]for terrorizing unarmed civilians and continuing extortion activities committed mostly against the poor people of Sagada,” Salvador explained.
“A kilo of rice given to the NPA [New People’s Army] may be insignificant for a lot of people in the lowlands but it may mean one family going hungry in the highlands of Cordillera,” he added.
Salvador said that what is happening in Sagada is an excellent example of people fed up with violence and who found the courage to unite and reject the NPA “terrorists” and allow peace to reign in their town.