THE DURIAN BEAT: SARA DUTERTE, EVANGELISTA-LAPINA & DAVAO PEACE 911

By ROGER M. BALANZA

A key actor in Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s counter-insurgency campaign has expressed elation that Davao Peace 911 was given credit by the vice presidential candidate for liberating Paquibato, the once communist rebel-controlled hinterland district in Davao City, from the grip of the New People’s Army (NPA).

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018. Santo Tomas, Davao del Norte Municipal Administrator Atty. Elisa Evangelista-Lapina, then of the Davao City Legal Office and focal person of Peace 911, the peace and development counter-insurgency initiative of Mayor Sara Duterte in communist rebel-influenced Paquibato District , during the Araw ng Sitio Kinsekinse, Barangay Salapawan,where she joined the celebration, consulted wih tribal leaders, and conducted free legal consultation and site inspection of a proposed rehabilitation and improvement of a vital road network. CTTO William Araneta Belaguas

Atty. Elisa Evangelista-Lapina was the Davao Peace 911 focal person, prior to her stint in 2019 as Municipal Administrator of the Santo Tomas local government in Davao del Norte.

As then head of Mayor Sara Duterte’s inter-agency counter-insurgency campaign, Evangelista-Lapina supervised delivery of a convergence of basic services to the remote mountain district dominated mostly by indigenous people who were for decades denied government suport due to the heavy presence of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) triumvirate that is behind the country’s communist insurgency woes.

Mayor Sara Duterte, who is running in the 2022 elections in tandem with presidential aspirant former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in her proclamation speech in Bulacan on Tuesday, cited the Davao Peace 911 as a key factor in ending decades of rebel occupancy of Paquibato District in just four years.

The mountain district, only about 60 kms. from Davao City’s urban center, which shares boundary with Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, was the home base in the Davao Region of the dreaded First Pulang Bagani Command, for decades headed by the elusive Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) of the NPA.

Parago was killed  in an encounter with military forces in Barangay Pañalum in Paquibato on June 28, 2015. The military acknowledged its forces were led to Parago’s hideout by informants from the civilian community.

Evangelista-Lapina said the success of Davao Peace 911 has been replicated in Santo Tomas town as the centerpiece of Disiplinadong Tomasino, a civic engagement arm for development and counter-insurgency which she supervises, of the administration of her fther, Mayor Ernesto Evangelista, who is seeking reelection in the coming May polls.

A major program of Mayor Sara Duterte’s father, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, is to end the communist insurgency before his term expires after the May polls

.Evangelista-Lapina said that if Mayor Sara Duterte wins the vice presidential race, she hoped that Davao Peace 911 would be replicated nationwide by the next administration as a comprehensive peace-building and development initiative towards building a progressive and insurgency-free nation.

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