SIGNED on December 4, 2018, Executive Order No. 70 was issued by Malacañan Palace to
institutionalize the whole nation of an approach that seeks to attain inclusive and sustainable peace by creating a national task force to end local communist armed conflict. The institutionalized "Whole-of-Nation Approach" deals with the insurgency problem through the creation of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Chaired by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and constituted by the heads of 19 concerned departments and agencies of government, including two representatives from the private sector, the EO is meant to provide an efficient mechanism and structure for the implementation of the Whole-of-Nation approach to aid in the realization of the collective aspirations for inclusive and sustainable peace.
With the creation of NTF-ELCAC, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also urged the country's 81 provinces to end insurgency by organizing their respective task force against insurgency.
The move actually follows the 1987 Constitution, which states that the country renounces war as an instrument of national policy and the maintenance of peace and order, protection of life, liberty and property and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all people of the blessings of democracy.
For many decades, the New People's Army has been engaged in guerilla-styled warfare in the country and although there were peace-talks and negotiations, a lasting peace deal is yet to be forged.
Officials from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) had a briefing at my office relative to the National Task Force and EO 70 or NTF 70 and they talked about the Communist Terrorist Group, the insurgency situation in the country and how the CPP-NDF managed to survive and indoctrinate scores of supporters who were recruited to rebel against the Republic. The NICA officials emphasized that in order to counter the propaganda being waged by the communist groups is to inform and let people know what the government is doing for them in create healthy and peaceful communities.
The value of information and communication to make people aware especially in the countryside and remote villages on the various projects and programs that will benefit them must be strengthened especially in geographically isolated conflict-affected areas. I heard one speaker from NICA say that "insurgency is like sleeping with the enemy" which reminds me that even in our ranks as communicators and media specialists, there are members who are in the watch list of law enforcement agencies of CPP supporters. It order for the government to win the hearts and minds of the people that they serve, it is a must that a positive stories be told to let the local community know "na may malasakit ang gobyerno" because the communists has ways to label developmental projects as oppressive and anti-poor.
It also states in the EO that there is a need to re-frame and refocus the government policy for achieving inclusive and sustainable peace by recognizing that insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions and other armed conflicts and threats are not only military and security concerns, but are symptomatic of broader, social, economic and historical problems, such as poverty, historical injustice, social inequality, and lack of inclusivity, among others.
By institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach as a government policy for the attainment of sustainable and lasting peace, agencies in government from the national to the local level must prioritize and harmonize the delivery of basic services and social development packages in conflict-ridden areas, vulnerable communities and facilitate societal inclusivity and ensure active participation of all sectors of society in the pursuit of the nation's peace agenda.