Regional anti-insurgency groups meet for updates

Photo by Jo Ann Sablad

THE National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) and the Regional Task Force (RTF) secretariats met to discuss updates, accomplishments, and issues concerning the implementation of Executive Order 70 at a mall in Cagayan de Oro City.on Friday, October 10.

The Mindanao Island Group Summit with the Cabinet Officers of Regional Development and Security (Cords) aims to assess and review the current performance of the RTFs; apprise the Cords and the RTF-Elcac on the updates on NTF-ELCAC; identify gaps and possible solutions that will improve the current performance of the RTF-Elcac and its systems and processes; and harmonize the current undertakings of the NTF and RTFs.

The one-day summit was also conducted in preparation for the upcoming national summit with President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Gusto naming mawala yung local communist armed conflict. At ngayon, gusto namin tingnan kung paano na kaya yung ginagawa namin, kung kailangan pang dagdagan. And so, we're trying to learn from each other and at the same time, we would like also to teach the others so that we can be more effective," Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the national security adviser, said.

The summit was attended by the RTFs of Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The Indigenous People (IP) were also present as according to Esperon, most of them were victims of the terrorists' lies.

"Ang sabi nila kami ang magdadala ng katahimikan at kaunlaran dito sa lugar ninyo, 'yun ang sinabi sa ating mga katribuhan," Esperon said.

The national security adviser said these IPs were promised peace and development by the communist rebels, however the latter built schools where kids were taught of becoming rebels.

"The communist terrorist group are present in most provinces in the Philippines but their presence is very pronounced dito sa Mindanao. Dito rin nanggagaling ang kalakihan ng kanilang suporta na naibabato nila sa ibang bahagi ng bansa," Esperon said.

Esperon shared that the rebels were funded by some small and big scale miners in Mindanao, and their members are growing due to recruitment of IP students.

"Kaya lalong hindi makarating ang dapat na dalhin ng gobyerno na basic services and livelihood. Ang nangyari tuloy, sa halip na gumanda yung buhay nila, ay lalong humirap dahil napunta sila sa pakikipagbakbakan," Esperon said.

"Yun ang ating tututukan ngayon, sa pamamagitan ng pagsamasamang hindi lang militar at pulis kundi kasama natin ang national agencies and local government," he added.

Esperon said the military and different government agencies will be visiting the villages to determine the needs of the community and provide peace and order.

On December 4, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order (EO) No. 70 known as "Institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WNA) in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of a National Peace Framework."

The EO states the need to establish WNA in addressing the root causes of local armed conflict by prioritizing the delivery of basic government services, social development packages, and construction of needed infrastructures with the end-in-view of ushering inclusive development in the pursuit of the country's peace agenda.


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