July 21, 2021

NTF-ELCAC should be continued by the next president: Esperon

One of President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy is his firm stance against insurgency, which led to the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Insurgency is a “national issue,” according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., which the future government should handle via NTF-ELCAC.

“The issue of insurgency is not one person’s concern. It is the country’s issue. It has been with us since at least 1968. When you ask what the chances are that the future president would address this, he says, “They will have to because it is a national problem,” he stated during a virtual news conference hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office on Wednesday.

Since its inception in December 2018, the NTF-ELCAC has helped former NPA rebels who have chosen to return to the fold of the law, bringing synergy among various government agencies and authorities in the fight against insurgency.

According to Esperon, the business sector, as well as the local community, are all engaged in the NTF-battle ELCAC’s against insurgency.

Insurgency vs. solution elements

“As vice chairman, I see the NTF-ELCAC as having the components of a solution already in place. “We operate in clusters that are coordinated and harmonized,” he said.

The NTF-work ELCAC’s includes, among other things, infrastructure, resource management, local government empowerment, and local and international peace activities, according to him.

He claimed combating local communist insurgencies was tough during his tenure as an Army commander. However, with the formation of the NTF-ELCAC, everyone is now a part of fulfilling shared obligations for peace and development.

“Palagay ko, bigyan man ng ibang pangalan ito (I believe this should be renamed), the concept or national action plan that has been developed must be maintained. Otherwise, the coordination and unity of the whole endeavor would be lost,” Esperon added.

Deception by the CPP-NPA

Among the NTF’s noteworthy accomplishments, according to Esperon, is liberating the indigenous people (IP) community from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military branch, the New People’s Army (NPA).

He said that owing to deceit and threats to life, 75 percent of NPA insurgents in Mindanao were from the IP group.

“Ngayon ay nabawi na natin sila,” says the speaker (We were able to rescue them). I don’t see why this should be stopped; it may be renamed, but the method and processes will remain the same. “Perhaps much more so,” he said.

Allen Capuyan, head of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), reiterated Esperon’s statement, describing the NTF-ELCAC system’s most important accomplishment as the culture of unity.

“There has never been a President who has stepped up to head the Task Force. The most important thing that occurred here was the creation of a culture of unity across all agencies within the framework of entire governance,” Capuyan said. “No one wanted to miss out on this chance. Workers at municipal, city, and provincial government agencies benefit from this approach. To solve societal issues, there is a culture of unity.”

If the communities are free of insurgents, Capuyan believes investments will begin to flow.

“For example, in Mindanao. We hardly longer hear much about war on the islands. And when money pours in, the lives of the people in these areas improve because they now have more options to live comfortably,” he said.

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have all designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

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