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Mga salot! Northwest Samar State University blames NPAs for failure to develop 900-hectare property

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A state-run university in Samar province blamed insurgency why the school has failed to develop its 900-hectare farm and forest land in San Jorge town.

Northwest Samar State University (NwSSU) President Avelina Bergado said Thursday that plans to develop a land in Matalud into an eco-tourism destination has been stalled by the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The school official has expressed concern after the National Economic and Development Authority initially tagged the 900-hectare property as a potential site for public-private partnership.

“The presence of waterfalls, vast forest, and very cold weather make it an ideal place for ecotourism. There have been plans to build access roads as part of forest development integrated program, but it was not pushed through because developers are afraid to go there,” Bergado told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

NwSSU with its main campus in Calbayog City, has been supervising a satellite campus in San Jorge since it became a university on Oct. 14, 2009.

Republic Act No. 9719 renamed the Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology into NwSSU integrating Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry located in San Jorge.

The university is mandated to provide advanced education, higher technological, professional instruction and training in trade, fishery, agriculture, science, education, commerce, engineering, forestry, nautical courses and other related fields.

The San Jorge campus owns a 900-hectare land, some parts of which had been occupied by an agriculture high school in the 1960s. When the NPA occupied the area from the 1970s to 1980s, development activities stopped, the school official recalled.

“It seems that armed rebels are against any infrastructure development project in the area. We have been seeking help from the Philippine Army to clear the area from insurgency threats,” she added.

The Samar provinces have been the stronghold of armed rebels due to their densely-forested mountainous areas, high poverty incidence, and issue of widespread landlessness, based on a 2013 study of William Norman Holden of the University of Calgary in Canada.

The NPA launched its first tactical operation in the country in Calbiga, Samar in 1974, when its members ambushed an Army scout patrol and seized a number of weapons. In 1976, the NPA gained popular support among the inhabitants of Samar following its actions against cattle rustling gangs. (PNA)