philippine ArmyORMOC CITY, (PNA) –- The Philippine Army hopes the entire province of Leyte will be declared insurgency-free this year.

This seems far-fetched, though, based on the information revealed by the 19th Infantry Battalion (IB) that only 32.5 percent of the 43 cities and towns in the province have been declared insurgency-free.

In his presentation during a peace forum on Sept. 19, Lt. Col. Reymondo A. Delgado, acting commanding officer of 19th IB, bared that only 14 towns have been declared as insurgency-free in the province. The first was Matag-ob on June 12, 2014 followed by Merida on Sept. 4 the same year.

The latest town to be declared insurgency-free is Alangalang last Sept. 1. Tunga will be added to the list with a formal declaration set on Sept. 23. The others – Palompon, Tabango, Barugo, Babatngon, San Miguel, Pastrana, Leyte, Tolosa, Dagami, Calubian and Sta. Fe were declared this year.

Four more towns are set to be declared insurgency-free – Palo, Kananga, Tanauan and San Isidro. “The resolution declaring the towns insurgency-free have been approved by the municipal councils. It’s just a matter of ceremony,” he said.

As for Tacloban City and the towns of Isabel, Villaba, Capoocan, Carigara and Jaro, Delgado said they have yet to present the resolutions to the municipal councils of their respective local governments.

However, Delgado noted the same cannot be said for Ormoc.

“We are still in the process of evaluating threat groups in Ormoc,” he went on.

He assured though that the Philippine National Police, military and civil authorities can handle Ormoc’s peace and order situation.

For his part, Maj. Cyril P. Dawatin, logistics officer of 802nd Infantry (Peerless) Brigade, hopes Ormoc and the rest of Leyte will be declared insurgency-free before year end.

Carrying the theme “Unity Towards Peace and Prosperity,” the multi-sectoral peace forum was conducted by 802IB in observance of the 12th National Peace Consciousness Month to raise awareness of the role of stakeholders in maintaining peace in the community. (PNA)